After a quick glance around the subway one day this week (without delay that day,) I noticed many people were wearing headphones or earbuds, intentionally blocking out the noise of the world around them, finding some solace of their daily commute in the music they had chosen.
Admittedly, on the subway, there are plenty of noises I would not have minded missing—the squealing on the brakes, the dinging of the doors about to close, the muffled announcements, the too loud conversation that really should not be held in public.
Once back above ground, I noted safety-related sounds (the bike delivery guy calling out to people on the sidewalk, the walk/don’t walk crosswalk beeping, car horns, etc.); I also noted other normal city sounds (the man by the hospital selling individual pens to generate income, the minimum-wage worker handing out free newspapers, the evangelists desperate to share their version of “what does the bible really say.”)
Arriving early to the university, I sat inside with the windows open and continued to listen: the wind rustled through the trees created a gentle background to the birds chirping excitedly, and the carillon rang out various tunes as new graduates walked by laughing.
These sounds all made up that day’s soundtrack for me, with each day different than the day before. By extension, I also realised that every sound I made had possibly became part of someone else’s soundtrack—our daily prayer often included hymn singing, my laughter would be heard (by many—I laugh loudly), my conversations with friends could be overheard (distinctly or indistinctly) as the sounds influenced what others around me heard.
No matter what the sounds, however, I reflect that God is there. God is in the noise of metal-on-metal of the subway, and in the honking of drivers’ horns. God is in the offer of a free paper, and the request for dignified help. God is in the bells pealing and birds singing, in the classroom teaching down the hall, in the hymns which started our days. And even for those who would escape these daily sounds, God is in the music of the earbuds, too—be it classical or classic rock or ???
The invitation that I took from this reflection, was to recognise the voice of God present in the sounds of everyday life; the sounds we choose to hear, and the sounds we cannot escape. Every sound we hear makes up the soundtrack of our life—and therefore of our ministry. And God is present there.
So what is the soundtrack of your life? What contribution are you making to the soundtrack of someone else’s life? And most importantly, do you find God there?