Singing trees

Faith & Inspiration

I tend to go through my day thinking I see and hear reality around me pretty much "as it is"-though I know full well that my dog Spider could hear noises an octave and a half above what I could. The truth is the world is full of sounds and sights that fall way above and way below the narrow sensory strata I inhabit.

Bernie Krause, a soundscape recordist, goes around with his lavalier microphone listening in on creation conversation that you and I are deaf to. He dropped his mic near an anthill in Arizona and heard the colony vocalizing, which he says left him speechless for half an hour.

The 1½-inch-long snapping shrimp is, according to Krause, pound-for-pound the loudest critter in the animal kingdom, emitting a racket almost 200 decibels loud (a jet plane is 128).

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And imagine Krause's surprise when he and colleagues studying bats for National Geographic in Utah discovered a strange music coming from the cottonwood tree-the tree itself, not an insect living in the tree. A tiny hydrophone inserted into the trunk picked up a 70-kilohertz sound (2½ octaves beyond what humans can hear). When he played it back at the studio and slowed it by a factor of seven, it sounded like happy bongo player.

The recording artist even got sounds out of an anemone. (Who knew they had anything to say?)

All this brings to mind Jesus' response to the Pharisees when they objected to the people's joyful acclamation at this Kingship debut:

"I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out" (Luke 19:40).

What if Jesus was not being poetic or metaphorical? How do we even know what language God has put in His creation that we are not privy to? There is an indirect indication in Job, after all, that God has talks with even what we chauvinistically call "inanimate objects":

"Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place? … Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, 'Here we are'? … Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help? …" (Job 38:12, 35, 41)

There is a lot of chatter around us that you and I are left out of. Krause writes:

"In many wild habitats creatures vocalize in special relationships with one another-much like instruments in an orchestra."

It's enough to make me take a second look at many Scriptures I have thought could not possibly be meant literally but only figuratively. Generally speaking, I find that the more I start putting the Word of God above the word of man, the more I find God's Word borne out by so-called "science." I don't want to always be waiting on science's imprimatur before affirming that God is right about the things He tells us, and that He really means it when He says:

"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD" (Psalm 150:6).
Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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