The rustling of fallen leaves. The barely audible touchdown of a snowflake. The night calls of an owl or whippoorwill. The grandkids laughing. The doctor saying you’re all clear. What’s the most beautiful sound you’ve ever heard? My family is riding the Polar Express Train this month which is based on a book by the same name written by Chris Van Allsburg, wherein the main character says a jingle bell from Santa’s sleigh is the most beautiful sound he's ever heard. Recently I was moved by a sound I’ve never heard before and I wanted to share the story.
It all started when I was cleaning leaves out of the gutter and saw strange little creatures peeking out from tangled end-of-the-year vines on the ground beneath my ladder. Upon further investigation I discovered several seed pods that looked very much like rams' heads! I recalled a conversation with Jeff months before observing an alien plant growing in our flower beds which we identified as rams' horn gourds, but the oddly shaped orbs sure hadn’t resembled anything like rams I'd seen on the farm. However now, spot on! The seed pods as well as some of the mature gourds clearly resembled a ram's horn. I wondered how many other things will make sense if we are just patient?
A little research on the plant revealed how the Native Americans cooked the young gourds as a healthy source of protein and fiber in their diet. What? You can eat them?! Jeff and I had dismissed the little gourds because they smelled different and were sticky.
In Jewish tradition, an actual ram’s horn is a sacred object called a “shofar” which is blown like a trumpet. It represented the voice of God, calling them to march around the walls of Jericho until the walls fell (Joshua 6:20), or calling them to assemble, or warning them of danger (Ezekiel 33:1-6).
With my curiosity piqued, I listened to the actual sound of the ram’s horn on the internet, and it was incredibly spiritual and stirring. Christians nowadays aren’t blowing a Shofar, but we can hear God’s voice through His words in the Bible and the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Going from cleaning gutters to hearing an ancient representation of God’s voice is what’s called a “rabbit trail”. It’s a common phrase describing people going off on tangents or on a path they didn’t expect. I’m comfortable with this process because we were conditioned early on. Like their mom did before them, when Easter rolled around Mom and Aunt Hilda wrote out miles of clues for us little girls to follow to find our Easter baskets. These wanderings on “rabbit trails” or “bunny trails” had us climbing trees and dipping deep into an old box freezer filled with water collected for sheep. I’m sure they seemed like good ideas at the time, but it does make you wonder what ones got vetoed! One clue was even tied around the neck of our ram. I don't know if you've ever seen four little girls trying to retrieve a tiny piece of paper from around the neck of a buck sheep, but I assure you if it happened today, we'd be on TV.
The clues on my recent rams' horn rabbit trail were all worthwhile. One told me to be thankful God is patient as we slowly become who He has called us to be. One said if we likewise are patient things might make sense in the next season. Another one told me to not overlook a blessing just because the situation might be sticky. God says, “Call to me and I will answer you and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known before.” (Jeremiah 33:3) Therefore the best clue is to listen for the Voice of God….It is truly the most beautiful sound we will ever hear.
Janet Cowger- Fliegel