Our Adult Forum during Eastertide has focused on the spirituality of our five senses: touch, sight, smell, sound and taste. I am facilitating the conversation on sound this Sunday. In my preparations, I came upon some interesting research from marine biologists at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Their studies of the songs of humpback whales have revealed that a song specific to one group of whales can move relatively quickly across thousands of miles.
Apparently, these songs are composed with complex structure similar to our spoken language. Sounds connect to phrases and phrases become themes, just like human communication. Early studies indicate that whale songs heard in the Pacific Ocean get repeated from one group of whales to another across the Southern Hemisphere, eventually sung by groups in the Atlantic Ocean—in just a couple of years!
The sounds are not exact replica of one another, of course. Phrases get altered along the way, sort of like an under-water version of the game Telephone. But the drive to communicate is strong for these creatures, just as it is for us. They listen carefully and then sing out in response, creating an astounding ripple effect. “Half the globe is now vocally connected for whales,” said one researcher, “and that’s insane.”
Eastertide is time set apart for intentional focus on the good news of Christ’s victory over sin and death. Our joy mirrors the joy of Jesus’ first followers; those who saw Him resurrected and walking among them. Once they knew that joy, they had a choice to make: what were they going to do with it? Were they going to share what they knew, what they had experienced? And if so, how? What song were they going to sing to spread the Gospel?
We know that there were many different responses to these questions at the time. We are given the same choice and faced with the same questions today. And each of us, in our own way, can sing out too; connecting with the songs of others to help spread our witness to the lived experience of redemption and love.