Thursday, July 28, 2011

Music in the Trees

“Grandma, what is that?” Two-year-old Daniel cocked his head, gaze raised to the sky.

“What, Daniel?” I stooped beside him and studied his pudgy face.

He pointed to the trees. “That sound.”

I strained to listen for what I had not slowed down long enough to absorb. My eyes and ears had been intent on adult concerns, not tuned in with a childlike wonder that recognizes the natural world around me.

“Cicadas, Daniel. That is the sound of cicadas.”

Satisfied by my response, Daniel shuffled to the sandbox where he proceeded to sift the grains through his fingers. With a Grinch grin, he plopped a fistful on top of his head.

Daniel’s curiosity that day tweaked mine. His acuity stimulated a hunger in me to listen more and appreciate the sounds around me, not just for the sake of the exercise, but for the meaning I might derive from it.

That meaning beamed with significance just this morning. Cicadas jiggled their tiny tambourines, accompanied by an occasional maraca flourish. Joined by male katydids and crickets, the symphonic serenade to attract the female of the species filled the mid-summer air with song, a tune that will come to a close when the first heavy frost quiets the chorus.

The Creator has equipped these minuscule creatures with a variety of sound-producing organs. Tymbal muscles, located at the base of the abdomen, contract and relax to create the cicadas’ prolific buzzing sound. Katydids and crickets rub their fore-wings together to produce music.

Swept up by insect song, I joined in praise to my Creator, raising my hands to the heavens. Francis of Assisi, a Catholic friar and preacher, penned it well in his hymn, All Creatures of Our God and King. He created music with words when he wrote about “the burning sun with golden beam, the silver moon with softer gleam . . . the rushing wind that is so strong, the clouds that sail in heaven along . . . and the flowers and fruits that in God grow.”

Building with intensity, Francis urged “all ye men of tender heart, forgiving others, take your part . . . let all things their Creator bless, and worship Him in humbleness. O praise Him! Alleluia! Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son, and praise the Spirit, Three in One: O praise Him, O praise Him! Alleluia, Alleluia! Alleluia!”

This is the song I hear in the insect chorus, and with gratitude and humility I pause to praise my Creator . . . and thank Daniel as well.

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