Listening to What we See!

Henrietta’s Diary 2: Listening to What we See Can Help Us Overcome Social Deafness and Narrow Vision!

[Another post from Henrietta Dubb’s Diary]

As I walk our Promenade things happen that can change my viewing profoundly.

At the point where Rip-View Carpark looks out over the entrance to Port Philip Bay a board was erected a few years ago. It simply describes the sound-scape, the variety of possible noises and sounds that will be heard as we keep watch on this part of God’s creation. Whoever initiated this project had an uncommon appreciation of our human condition.

The board is also written in Braille. It stands as a wonderful affirmation to those with impaired sight. They too are welcome to enjoy this lovely patch of cliff above the Rip and in their own way. Here is another view (thankyou “Weekend notes” also for the copy of the Board’s translation of the Braille announcement).

Discover the Soundscape of Rip View
The sounds you hear are a musical wonderland of the various aspects of our marine and coastal environment.
The South-Westerly winds are an ever-present feature of this unique coastline. Strong gusts cause only a slight rustle in the dense, low, native vegetation, which is well-adapted to this windy environment.
The vegetation leans inland and hugs the dunes and cliffs providing protection for the birds and other animals from the prevailing winds. The seabirds can be heard calling as they hover on the up draughts.
The waves crash loudly as they tumble across the rocky platforms. With the changing tide, the water trickles over small rock pools as they empty and fill. The immense tidal movements of water creates a choppy swirl known as “The Rip” between Point Lonsdale and Point Nepean. In foggy conditions, the foghorn located at the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse sounds to assist mariners navigating this treacherous waterway.
Impassible Cliffs
At certain high tides, water levels rise to the cliff face. Beach crossings should not be attempted at this time.

And for sighted folks the board can be seen and touched and so it does a service to all who chance there and we are prompted to feel deeply about what is going on in that lovely place. But more than that. The wonder of sound reminds us of what is going on around us particularly with people who may not see. And as I write this I think of the deaf who visit this place as well and who will gain encouragement, in their way, from this board. What most of us do naturally, at least when we are fully awake to do so, we are now encouraged to do so with our hearts touched by the feel of a Braille wake-up call on our finger-tips.

This board encourages us to look again at what we see and to attend closely to what we hear. We feel the sounds now with a new wonder and the experience is a maze of sight and sound mixed together with a warm feeling, a tenderness that prods us to care more gently for all our neighbours.

And what does this have to do with our political responsibilities? Much I would say. The board is a public artefact and the person who devised it possessed of a keen and caring outgoing wisdom. The braille board conveys a warm welcome to all as they come to that spot, as they pause and consider its message. Here, by our site-seeing, we are brought up short to close our eyes and experience a place of wonder as one who was site-hearing, as a blind person might do. Not only do we deepen our appreciation for those who need braille to read, who if they travel cannot but embark on “site hearing tours”, but we are reminded that our own sight is a gift, a precious gift and we give thanks to God.

As citizens, we are those engaged in giving a welcome of due respect to all visitors. The tasks involved in hospitality and extending a welcome call forth from us projects that require creativity and imagination, love and compassion for all who are brought across our paths. The project that brought the braille board into existence has enriched my sea-side township in ways unseen.

Calvin Seerveld introduces his rendition of  Psalm 19 by telling us it “declares the stunning  torah of the Lord: creational order reveals God’s merciful will for our lives.”

The heavens are telling the glory of God.
The very shape of starry space makes news of God’s handiwork.
One day is brimming over the talk for the next day,
and each night passes on intimate knowledge to the next night
– there is no speaking, no words at all,
you can’t hear their voice, but –
their glossolalia travels throughout the whole earth!
their uttered noises carry to the end of inhabited land!
(Verses 1-4a).

Reading that braille board in the context what God’s written psalm-word tells us is a stunning glory, leads us to hear it speaking loud and clear in its own glossolalia that sounds throughout the whole earth in its own way and it points to a remarkable fulfilment of the prayer by which David’s melodious psalm concludes:

Let the sayings of my mouth and the inarticulate groanings of my heart be something acceptable in front of your face.
O Lord God, my rock! the One who always come through to set me free from my bondage. (Verse 14).

We are induced to close our eyes and hear something that we may not have heard if we hadn’t come across that board. And then we open our eyes and look out over the Rip again and it is just not the same.

HD 5/2003 – posted 19.7.17


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