Raise a Holy Hum

Elaine and Hoanie. Tapuamu, Tahaa. 2004.

Play Song, Pray Song
Sunday I learned that prayer sounds a lot like play.

Sort of. Let me explain.

Papeete, Tahiti, 1990. Walking back to the hostel, my friend (who happens to be my friend solely because at this moment, we’re both guests at the same hostel and so we threw our lots in together and shared a dozen ridiculously expensive eggs) and I passed a school playground. Children clambered, laughing, on the bars. A girl ran squealing after an errant ball.

“I’ve been all over the world,” my friend said. “And that noise? That kids-having-fun sound we hear?”

“It’s universal. Children playing sound the same everywhere.” Ever since, whenever I travel, I listen at playgrounds, eavesdrop as I walk past a park, spy with my ears on children playing in a vacant lot or on a street corner.

He was right. The happy hum of children at play sounds the same in Samoan, in French, in Spanish, in Hindi.

Sure. You can train your ear on a single child–maybe that curly-haired barefooted boy swinging, kicking as high as his heart can carry him? And maybe you will pick out his voice. But the group? All the children, together?

It’s the same song, everywhere. It’s human song. 

I heard that sound at church on Sunday. Pastor had dismissed the children to Sunday School before inviting us to share our prayer requests.

My brother needs heart surgery.

My sister needs a job.

The biopsy is scheduled for Wednesday. 

Look at this glorious day He’s given us. 

Pastor led us in prayer, then invited us to join in silent prayer. With my head bowed and eyes pressed shut, holding my husband’s strong hand, I heard the rollicking giggles of happy children rise from the room adjacent to the hushed sanctuary. I heard quiet footsteps, doors clicking closed; the laughter muffled down to a shadow of itself. Pastor Robert, I imagined, had slipped away from the pulpit to mute the distraction.

I wondered, then, how our prayers sound to God. I know He hears me, when I lift my heart to Him, certain as a child on a swing. He hears my praises and my pleas and my desperate begging. He hears my professions of love and faithfulness as surely as He hears my humble confessions when I fall short, again.

And again.

Cadence. November, 2009.

Imagine, though, that He also hears our collective, holy hum. I’m picturing all our prayers, rising to His perfect ear woven into one big love song. 

Your song.

My song.

Our song. 

5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 15:5-6 (NASB)

I’m joining my friend Michelle DeRusha’s lovely community for Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday. Won’t you drop by?