Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cicadian Rhythm

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

Once a year, in the hazy humidity of late summer, the cicadas begin their singing. Endless rising and falling rhythmically in pitch from morning until evening, their song is a constant presence in the months of July and August.

Cicadas aren't like crickets. They don't rub legs or wings together to make their music. What they do is not entirely unlike singing. Rapidly constricting muscles in their abdomen, cicadas rattle a set of stiffened membranes, called tymbals, at speeds up to 50 times per second. The clicking of the tymbal membrane is then amplified by the cicada’s largely hollow abdomen which functions as a resonance chamber. They move their abdomens toward and away from the tree to create the characteristic modulation (wheeee-whaaaa) in their song.

An interesting observation about humans however, is that we often "tune out" the cicada’s music. The sound is so constant that our brains learn to filter out their familiar drone as we focus on the sounds of everyday life.

One of the more beautiful things scripture says is that God sings over us. His presence is always with us. That's an amazing and wonderful thought. However, I think we often lose touch with God's voice in the same way we tune out the cicada. We get used to the fact that God is always there. The other, less constant things in our lives catch our attention and distract us. The “noise” of those many things can drown out God's song in our hearts making him seem far away, if there at all.

But he is there. Always there. Always singing. Always holding our noisy lives in his hand and singing his love song softly into our hearts. The question is... Are we really listening?

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