Thursday, September 4, 2008

Parable of the Late Summer's Song

Do you ever stand outside in your back yard at night in the late summer and listen to the myriad crickets and katydids calling? Do you ever listen closely to the individual calls and try to count the species? A few minutes ago I was out in the yard doing just that and after listening a while tried to imagine just how many noisy creatures might have been calling within the borders of our yard. It isn't always easy, discerning the various pitches and cadences of these nocturnal mating invitations but with practice I have become better at recognizing some of them. Tonight I counted 12 species, though there could easily be more since many of them sound similar. I have a CD entitled Songs of Crickets and Katydids of the Mid-Atlantic States that I listen to each year before the seasonal chorus begins in hopes of becoming better acquainted with the various voices. As difficult as it is for me to pick out and remember each call, I have a friend who knows them intimately and recognizes them all without effort. I also have a couple of friends who are knowledgeable about the nocturnal flight calls of migrating thrushes. They position themselves in a quiet spot well before sunrise and sit and just listen to the various thrushes calling far up in the darkness as they fly overhead. Sometimes the listeners tally what they have heard and will report that they counted 400 wood thrushes, 100 veeries, and 50 Swainson thrushes in the pre-dawn migration flight on a given day. While I am pretty good at recognizing many bird songs in the daylight, I have not yet even attempted to learn the nocturnal flight calls. And yet, I have no doubt that others can do it.

As I was outside listening a little while ago, my mind turned to thinking about God's ability to listen to the prayers of so many of us all at the same time, knowing not only who we are, but our very hearts as well. Whenever I have previously wondered about this I must have been sitting indoors rather than outside listening. When outdoors, I need only pay attention to realize that each voice is different even within the same species. It seems to me that the reason God recognizes of each our prayers is because He listens attentively and expectantly... just like I do when I'm out birding or mentally tallying birds while I am busy doing something else. It is their voice that reveals their identity and their proximity.

This evening I was part of a small group that meets to pray and encourage one another and as with any group, the members came together each with their own concerns, needs, fears and joys. And as we prayed God listened and attended to our cries, spoken and unspoken. He listens to our prayer because He loves us and He attends to our prayer because He knows us even better than we know ourselves. In future years when this late summer season rolls around, or when the spring avian migration begins and I once again have to tune my ears to recognize bird calls, I will be reminded to thank God yet again for His ability and His willingness to stoop to listen to the cries my heart, knowing that at the same time He is doing so for all who call on Him.

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