Open My Ears That I Might Hear

This morning I woke up in a cloud of birdsong. It was 5 a.m., already light out, and the air was filled with otherworldly music. I went downstairs, poured my tea, opened all the doors and windows, and sat for a while. The robins, orioles, finches, and who know what else poured their sparkling soundscape into me, into my home. So much chirping! The twitters seemed to resonate and carry, as though early morning acoustics were different from other times. All together, the sound felt round. It encompassed the city like a mystical, golden secret. I listened, and the chorus erased me.

I say “otherworldly” but these are the same birds that peck my strawberries and nest in the English ivy and leave streaks of white shit on the windows of my car; they’re very this-worldly, and to describe them otherwise puts a wedge between divinity and creation. The songbirds bless us. The ordinary house sparrows chip-chip-chipping into the air are the soundtrack for domestic life around the globe. The chickadee-dee-dee might as well be my mother singing it’s so dear. The cardinal’s frantic pulse is a car alarm turned holy. The robin’s sing-song always reminds me of the squeaky chains on the swing sets of my childhood, and seagulls will always be the sound of summer, even here in Minnesota. The weird monkey-call of the pileated woodpecker conflates time and space.

We don’t hear the birds until we do. Sometimes I sleep through the concert; most times I sleep through it even when I’m awake. This morning I heard. Who knows why? Maybe the fact that I heard is what’s otherworldly—the real miracle. Awareness changes a dull gray sleepy morning into mystical immersion. I want my ears always opened to this constellation of sound. I want always to become more aware. This is why I pray.  –Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

2 thoughts on “Open My Ears That I Might Hear”

  1. Lovely, absolutely lovely. I am in bed in a Motel Six in South Bend, Indiana, headed to Cleveland. The drive here was two hour longer than usual, thanks to horrendous traffic and road work. My body is still vibrating from the hours on the road and now the AC in this tiny, but efficient room is clangy. Loud whooshing sounds fill the room–and then they don’t only to start again I have decided to imagine it is raining outside and I have found shelter. Your post helped me re-imagine. Thanks.

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