I am losing my hearing. What can I hear in that? The sound of growing older. The disharmony of life reminding me that I am no different from the crimson leaf that parachutes down to the silent applause of the other fallen leaves, gathering around the roots of the mother tree. No different from the amber light of sundown, burnishing the gable wall of next door, like a reflection from another world, then shrinking to leave nothing but white pebble dash.
Deafness. It’s the music of me happening to the beat of entropy. Out of the silence, a voice that for a moment finds other voices that weave in melody and cacophony, some rising, some finding a crescendo, some hardly heard at all until each one, ready or not, slips back into silence.
What is the gift inside my deafness: I am here. Soon I won’t be. A reminder of the event that has my name, my experiences, my gift, my flaw. My song.
Where does the song go? What happens at the other side of silence?
I was in a hospital ward as old as the Edwardian era that had built it. Surrounded by men in their illness and the harassed toing and froing around them that is the necessity of care. I sat with a man who sang back to me the song that was his.
From his hospital bed it sounded like grief, anticipating separation from others who sang along – some he had taught to sing- it also sounded notes of disappointment and improvisations he gladly made; but mostly it was gratitude for having this voice to sing this song.
With tears he recited the lines from a poem:
Since I am coming to that holy room,
Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore,
I shall be made thy music; as I come
I tune the instrument here at the door,
And what I must do then, think here before.
John Donne, Hymn to my God, my God in sickness
Tears fell, like little boats, rowing from the heartlands to the world outside.
This is my grief, they said, and my gratitude.
What he needed most was someone who’d never heard him sing, someone he could trust just to listen back with him to hear what his song had sounded like. Not to add new notes, or try and bring it to a different resolution. Just to let the listening be a space when the singer can hear for himself the sound of his own voice and the song he has been singing.
Is that not what Jesus does with our song. Does he not carry it into the heart of the father, and say, I’ve brought you a song. let’s listen.