Ting, ting, ting. Ting, ting, ting.
All along the two-mile course I wandered with the Lovely Lady, I heard them.
At first, it was just a subliminal awareness—no thought given to the sound whatsoever. The further we went though, the more noticeable became the sound.
At one point, the tone lowered into the bassier voice and, with a start, I was immediately aware. The clang, clang, clang! of the long pipes flailing at the ends of cords was unmistakable.
This was no gentle ripple of sound, no pretty chord voiced to calm the heart as a gentle breeze moved the pipes. The gusts of wind that tore violently at our clothes and hair also gripped the silver tubes of the wind chimes and sent them almost horizontal in their arcs, banging against the wooden clapper in the center and then against each other, almost certainly denting the soft metal in the process.
Of course! That sound was coming from the wind chimes hanging on porches. Small ones as well as large, made of brass and aluminum—perhaps even of ceramic glass.
The different tones came from different sizes and different designs. The delicate ting, ting, ting, came from the little short tubes, the low-pitched bong, bong, bong, from the longer pipes and larger bore of the massive chimes several homes boasted.
Not one of them was silent on this day.
The wind whipped in gusts and eddies around the houses and porches, spinning and swinging the chimes in a constant cacophony of sound.
I was walking beside the loveliest walking companion one could ask for. She was telling me of something the grandchildren had done earlier that day, but suddenly I couldn’t hear her for the bells and the violent wind in my head.
I may have been striding down the walking trail in my current hometown, but my mind was over eight hundred miles and nearly fifty years away, on the front porch of my family home.
The wind whipped and howled then, too. There was rain in this wind, and danger.
The ten-year-old boy standing on that screened-in porch liked the danger part.
Finally. A hurricane.
All about him the trees waved in the storm like giant windmills, their limbs gyrating first one way, then another. The sound the tall palm trees made as fronds rattled against each other was almost deafening.
The chinaberry trees, with their fragile limbs bent almost to the ground, cracked and groaned. The bougainvillea bushes merely shuddered and leaned parallel to the earth, looking for all the world as if they were going to be uprooted and take flight at any moment.
The howling of the wind filled his ears. Even with all that racket, the clang, clang, clang, of the two sets of wind chimes at the other end of the porch cut through his consciousness.
The noisy things were flying wildly in the wind, making almost as much commotion as the trees outside. He didn’t understand why the red-headed lady who raised him had left them out, when they had picked up everything else that could blow away outdoors.
Most days, his mother loved the sound of the chimes as the breeze moved them. On any other day you might choose, the Gulf breezes blew steadily from the east, coming off of the coast. Then, the chimes made their pleasant tinkling sound constantly.
Noisy things! It certainly wasn’t pretty now. Surely they couldn’t even hold together through this monster storm. Maybe he should take them down.
Suddenly, a yell came from the kitchen, at the back of the house.
“The hackberry tree is going over! Come look at this!”
He ran in the front door and through the living room to watch the destruction of the trees behind and beside the house, the front porch—and the chimes—temporarily forgotten.
In the backyard, limbs waving and roots still attached, the huge old hackberry tree he loved climbing went over on its side. Next, the chinaberry tree, in the yard beside the bathroom window, split right down the middle. Half of it stayed upright, the rest toppling to the ground, still hanging by a layer of bark on its thick trunk.
He had seen enough.
Danger was okay when all it did was threaten. When real damage came to pass, it was time to get things back to normal. He was ready for this terrible hurricane to be over.
It was the next morning when he finally wandered onto the front porch again. Funny. The wind was back to a breeze, prevailing from the east, gently moving the chimes.
Ting, ting, ting. Ting, ting, ting.
It was as if the storm had never happened at all. But no. He looked around.
The ground underneath the palm trees was piled with fronds which had sailed off in the wind. There were branches and leaves everywhere.
He stepped outside the door and saw the chinaberry bereft of half of its top. A look around the neighborhood showed debris everywhere and water standing in the ditches.
No. There had been a storm all right. It wasn’t just a dream.
Still, the little resonant tubes tapped against the clapper and each other gently. Their sound was prettier than he could remember it, perhaps because he had seen what they had gone through less than twelve hours before.
They sang out their chords once again, as if nothing could ever silence them.
Perhaps nothing ever could.
Recently, I was in the home of a man I know to help him move some furniture. We finished the job and I looked around. Over in the corner of the living room hung a huge set of wind chimes.
I asked my friend about them.
Why were they inside? Surely they never got any wind in there?
He smiled as he flipped a switch nearby. I could see no fan, but I heard the fan motor begin to spin and felt the breeze moving slightly. Gently, very gently, the huge brass tubes began first to sway and then to undulate toward the clapper.
Bong. I heard the quiet, low pitch once and then again. With a certain regularity, the bong, bong, bong began to repeat, as the different pitches gently sounded.
I wondered aloud.
“Can you make them louder? Does the fan go to a higher speed?”
He looked at me as if I were mad.
“Do you realize how much these chimes cost? It was hundreds of dollars!”
I shook my head in amazement.
The man refused to place the wind chimes where they could ever actually catch the wind, because he was afraid that they would be damaged.
He would never allow them to do what they were designed to do—sound their chords deep and loud, swinging wildly in the unpredictable wind—for fear that they might be dented.
Wind chimes are meant to be in the wind.
They are made to catch the breeze and hit against a clapper, the beautiful sound being drawn out because of the adversity. If they experience no hardship, they never perform as they were designed. Never.
The more distress they experience—the more affliction—the sweeter they sound.
The individual chimes are anchored securely to keep them attached to the whole unit. Each one is painstakingly tuned to the correct pitch that complements the others.
The beautiful individual tones blend to make a gorgeous chord as they are tapped and—yes—battered by the clapper and by each other.
Do you realize we need to experience hard times—difficulties in our lives—to bring out the beauty hidden deep inside of us?
The harmony and the pure tones that need to be heard in our world will only come as we are in the public view, battered and beaten as we are, doing exactly what our Creator intended for us.
He made you what you are!
He made me what I am!
And, He attached us together to make music for the world to hear and be amazed by. We are firmly anchored to Him and to each other.
Sure, it’s not always a gentle breeze that plays around us.
The storms of life will send us swirling around and around, to clatter and clang for a little while. And then, the Master says Peace; be still to the storms, and the gentle breezes return.
The music is still sweet to Him.
The world, too, is listening as they wander, and stumble, and scramble past.
I wonder—is the wind chime out on the porch where they can hear it? Or, have we squirreled it away—in safety—out of the wind, to keep it from damage and distress?
Is there any music for them to hear?
I hope it’s a sweet sound in their ears, too.
Adversity is the diamond dust Heaven polishes its jewels with.
(Thomas Carlyle ~ Scottish philosopher ~ 1795-1881)
Sing for joy to God our strength;
shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
Begin the music, strike the timbrel,
play the melodious harp and lyre.
(Psalm 81:1-2 ~ NIV)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.