There’s More Here Than Meets The Ear

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Meet Chip. I realize it is not the most inventive name for a chipmunk, but my wife called him that one spring day when he popped his little nose around a rock to sniff us out. The name has stuck and he has stuck around. A few years back we lost our cat, and in the ensuing summers our backyard has become a bit more diverse. Chip is out and about. We regularly see robins, cardinals, rabbits, squirrels – the list goes on and on. We all loved Noel dearly, but it is nice to see some bio-diversity.

I especially like Chip. One day I was reading a book on a Muskoka chair and when I looked up, on the chair beside me was Chip eating a raspberry. He calmly ate half and then scooted off, leaving the other half for me or some other hungry creature. My wife has had the same experience. We will often see him pause in his jog across our patio, cheeks full to the brim with seeds or such, panting while he catches his breath. And then again after a brief repose, he sprints to the end of his race, a barely noticeable hole in our lawn, which serves as a portal to his storehouses.

I thought of Chip the other day while reading some theology. Luther wrote a treatise in 1525 entitled “How Christians Should Regard Moses.” It was written in response to an emerging idea that Christians in the German lands should be freed of the pre-Christian laws, which formed the basis for current laws, and embrace instead the mosaic laws. Luther disagreed, claiming that the mosaic laws were written for mosaic times, and while we might employ some of them (he mentioned, in particular, the Jubilee Laws), he rejected their wholesale engagement. He wrote that some of what we hear God say in the bible is said by God to others, not to us and so we ought not to hear them as addressed to us. Of course, this invites a broad conversation concerning which bits are intended for us, a matter taken up in earnest throughout the document. At any rate, he used a most interesting example to illustrate his point concerning directed speech. He mentioned that God speaks to angels, trees, fish, birds, animals etc but we do not hear it because what God says to them was not meant for us. And then I thought of Chip.

I like the idea of Chip – and Noel for that matter – holding converse with God (I can’t imagine it being a monologue). Nature, like “civilization,” is both messy and beautiful, and I would anticipate praise and lament from Chip and his fellows. Of course, I do get to hear one side of the conversation from time to time. The local cardinals let me in on their side of the song, for instance, even though I do not know what they say. But I hear them “saying,” that’s for sure! Of course, there are other – biological – ways to interpret their song, and I will happily hear of other interpretations. I will probably agree with them, but rescind from thinking scientific and theological explanations as mutually exclusive. But in the meantime, I will listen hard for what God has to say to me in this verse and not that, and in the play of Chip and friends, gracing my lawn with their presence.

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8 thoughts on “There’s More Here Than Meets The Ear

  1. jannatwrites says:

    I hadn’t thought of ithe but it does make sense that God would communicate with nature. Though the meaning isn’t understood, I do like the sounds of nature- they can provide some peace on a stressful day.

  2. dianerivers says:

    Yesterday in church, the pastor read the story of Balaam and the talking donkey (Number 22), and pointed out how God “opened the donkey’s mouth” to get a very stubborn man’s attention. Clearly, God can choose His form of communication with us, so I rather like the idea of Chip “holding converse with God”. Why not?

    • agjorgenson says:

      Glad you agree! I find it so interesting in the Balaam story that the seeming stubbornness of the donkey rather than his talking captivates Balaam. Something can be right before our eyes and our own plans block our sight, and hearing both!

  3. shoreacres says:

    This is really interesting. You’ve focused on hearing, while I just posted about sight — but the point is the same in both instances. We’re part of a world far more complex, far more communicative, and far more delightful than we often imagine. It takes opening our eyes and shutting our mouths to appreciate that natural world, but we are, after all, creatures ourselves, and a little humility wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

    Anyone who does pay attention to creatures like Chip knows the truth: they have lessons to teach us that we probably can’t teach one another.

    By the way — your leaves are beautiful!

    • agjorgenson says:

      Looking forward to reading yours! Opening and shutting pretty much sums it up! Chip teaches me much, but most importantly, it seems that he knows how to enjoy life. Thanks re leaves. As I recall from visiting Texas, there is a spot there famous for the colours as well.

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