During the turn of the 19th century, a pioneering husband and wife were driving their wagon over the prairie. In the back of the wagon lay their baby boy. As the wagon lurched over the trackless prairie, the baby rolled onto the thick grass. An hour later the mother and father discovered their loss and turned back across the prairie, but they did not find their child. An Indian tribe found the boy and adopted him. As the boy grew, he learned the secrets of the woods and became able to distinguish the noises of the forest such as those made by birds and insects.
Years passed and eventually the boy was allowed to leave the tribe. He ventured into New York City to be educated there. But the young man never lost his keenness of eye and ear. Once he was standing with a friend at a busy intersection where the elevated railway roared overhead and taxis honked their horns. Grabbing the arm of his friend, the young man said, “Listen, I hear a cricket.” His friend said, “Ridiculous, no cricket could live here, and if it did, you couldn’t possibly hear it.” “Wait,” said the youth again, “and listen.”
Dragging his friend after him, he crossed the street to the opposite corner. There on a window sill were some flower pots. Searching through the plants, the young man found a cricket. “Amazing,” cried his comrade, “Incredible!” “Not at all,” said the other, taking a silver coin from his pocket and flipping it into the air. As it dropped on the pavement, a score of New York citizens instantly searched to see where the coin had fallen.
“You see,” said the young man, “Everyone hears what he is listening for.”
(This is a story told by my father on March 21, 1937 in a sermon in “The Hull Village Church” when he was in graduate school. Yes, we all hear what we’re listening for. But my father found another lesson in the story. He likened hearing the cricket to hearing Christ’s “crystal clear voice across the centuries and amidst the clanging confusion of the world.” When I lived in New York City, I lived about two blocks from where the subway surfaces and continues above ground. I can well imagine this intersection. I don’t know if the story is true or not. But it’s a good story!)