For When We Can’t Hear Beauty

Today is one of those days.

You know the kind. The ones where the weather is rainy, grey, heavy, cool.

Everyone’s moods match the weather, too, and I can see the placid look on each student’s face as I pass them in the hall, their heads down and hoods up.

It’s been one of those days.

The alarm goes off but you hear it too late, a test is returned with a low grade, you hear news of a friend’s hurt, another friend’s disappointment, perhaps your plans are cancelled or a work shift goes poorly.

How hard it is to be grateful on days like these.

How hard it is to see the beauty in days like these.

I was born deaf.

I am deaf in both ears, in one – moderately, in the other – more severely.

I hear better out of my left ear than my right ear.

I am more deaf to higher pitches, and I often miss beeps of the microwave at dinner time or the rings of a sleigh bell for Christmas time.

Lately, I’ve been listening to quite a few piano pieces. Just a few short weeks ago, I found one beautiful piece, and I’ve been listening to it hungrily.

I’ve listened to the song enough times to have the melody memorized, and I can play the piece in my head as I listen to it.

Well, it’s been one of those days.

Those days where you’re tired but can’t sleep, full but keep eating, dreary, heavy, weary, grey.

The attitude permeates campus, and I am lead to wonder if the grey is snaking its fingers off campus and is hitting everyone the same way it is hitting me and those close to me.

And when I came home, I dropped my heavy book bag to the floor but shouldered the weight of the world instead.

Music. That beautiful piece. I yearned for some beauty in this shaded world.

Oh, but my roommate is home, and while she usually concedes to my choice in music, she just isn’t in the mood for a piano concerto at six in the evening, not today.

It’s been one of those days, she says.

So I rummaged, found headphones, plugged and placed them.

And lo, this is not the same piece, I thought, as an unfamiliar strain of notes played through the headphones.

Yet when I checked the computer, I saw it was indeed the song I’ve been hungrily memorizing.

I listened more closely, ears straining, mind whirring. The same melody, but…another layer, another fruitful layer in the background.

A moment of clarity – I checked the headphones.

Ah, I realized. I placed the R headphone in my left ear and the L headphone in my right ear. Of course it sounds different at first. I switched the buds.

And then – Ah!

The music is deeper, more rich, more heavily layered and artfully crafted than I realized!

The notes that usually ran through the R headphone and into my severely deaf right ear now made their way into the ear that could receive them with open arms.

The music is beautiful.

More beautiful than I realized.

All that needed to be done was to switch the headphones, was to send the beauty to the open ear rather than the closed one.

It’s been one of those days, dear reader.

How hard it is to see the beauty in days like these.

And yet, it is the little things – a moment of clarity, the sweet harmony that filters in through an ear that didn’t know any better, a ray of sunshine, a smile from a stranger, a letter in the mail.

Are we deaf to those little things around us?

Are we hiding behind the grey, the dreary, the heavy and weary?

Are we deaf to beauty?

I stop looking on days like today, too tired to hear past the grey.

I don’t know where the beauty is!

I cry, I pray, I wonder.

But do I look?

Not often.

But when it comes, when I hear it, when it surprises me, I am revived.

This morning I saw dreary and grey.

But when I heard that music, that music I didn’t know I was missing, that beauty that was there even though I couldn’t hear it, I thought to myself, what else am I missing?

Is there more out there? Behind the grey, dull, dead, sullen, tired?

Behind the storm clouds, the sun waits.

On the other side of the horizon, morning comes.

Inside a closed aloof bud, a bloom sleeps.

The heart yearns for beauty, the heart was made for beauty.

Made for Beauty.

I went for a walk today. Even though it was one of those days.

I had to know if there was beauty out there, in the shaded world.

And then I saw it. I heard it.

I saw a green that was impossibly green, the grass misted with clear glass.

I saw trees spreading their arms wide open, thirsty for the live-giving water.

Birds waking. Flowers in slumber. The sun peering its eye through a keyhole in the clouds.

I saw beauty, I did.

How many other days have I put head down hood up and walked right past it?

Past others?

We were made for beauty, yes.

But we were also made beautifully.

How many of you have I missed?

We deafen ourselves to beauty, we close ourselves off from beauty.

And what little beauty sneaks its way into our deafened ears, we accept at face value, not wondering how much more Beauty we could find if we opened ourselves up, switched the metaphorical headphones, listened a little more closely.

We deafen ourselves, we let ourselves be deafened.

All the sin, the sorrow, the suffering, the struggle, we let it clog our ears and we are deafened to God’s Beauty.

Yet…

At the end of time, we are told that the deaf will be made to hear.

There will come a time when, no matter how deaf we have become from the loud noises of sin, of sorrow, of suffering, of struggling, we will be made to hear, and Beauty will be the strains we hear forever.

Proverbs tells us that it is the glory of kings to seek things that are hidden.

Perhaps we have not deafened ourselves but we have been deafened – but even so, do we remain in our quiet dark state?

Do we bother to look for the beauty with head up hood down or do we hide?

Do we hide, shelter, shrink away from bright loud Beauty?

I went for a walk today.

Snapped a photo of the impossibly green.

Snapped a photo of the playful sun, the stretching trees, the yawning wild blooms.

Snapped a photo of dropped petals, laying carefree.

It’s just dead flowers, my friend remarked.

Ah but it is so much more!

It is snow in spring, soft and white and like Manna.

Head down hood up I would miss this gift of beauty.

Let us remember that on days like today, the beauty should be much easier to find, splashed and shiny amongst the dead drooped dreary.

What are you missing?

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