Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Of Cicadas and Music

Last June, as many United Methodists across the state were gathering in Buckhannon at West Virginia Wesleyan College for Annual Conference, it became immediately apparent to us that we were not the only ones there. The area had been invaded by cicadas.

Have you noticed how noisy cicadas can be? There must have been a large group of them in the tree next to the side door of the chapel, because when I would walk out that door, the sound was deafening - not just noisy, but cover your ears and wince loud. In other places on campus, you could hear them, all the time, but it became white noise that you could almost ignore.

It was interesting to me the different comments people made about the sounds. Some people called the cicada sound beautiful - like a choir. Other people (like me) would wince at the chapel side door. One person said the sound they made was exactly the right pitch to strike the chord of his tinitus. Same sound, heard differently by different people.

What made the difference? Location (they were certainly louder at some places on campus than others)? Experience? Did living with them all the time create an immunity to the sound for some people? Obviously physical limitations, such as ringing in the ears, caused a different reaction.  Did attitude (such as, "I am determined to like these creatures, so I will)? All of those responses are legitimate, even if they are different.

My next comment is going to be a big jump.

Do we have the same reaction to music? There are some who love classical, others who do not like it at all. There are some who wish we sang only modern music in worship; others who find it less than sacred. And all of those responses are legitimate.

The problem arises when we value one reaction to cicadas - I mean music - over other ones.  The problem comes when we try to legitimize one person's experience over another person's experience. The problem - or maybe it is an opportunity - arises because we all hear God differently, and that includes the way we experience God in music.

If you hear God in the sound of cicadas (and some people do), then I ought to amplify that for you (even though it sounds like crazy bugs to me). If you hear God in a particular kind of music...

Let's amplify God for each other.

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