Known Voices

4th Sunday of Easter

My sheep hear my voice.

I know them,

and they follow me.

I give them eternal life,

and they will never perish.

No one will snatch them out

of my hands.

What my Father has given me is

greater than all else, and no one can

snatch it out of the Father’s hand.

The Father and I are one.

John 10.27-30

My sheep hear my voice. I know know them, and they follow me. When a baby is born, it already knows its mother’s voice because it can hear her from the womb. The voice has been its companion for nine months. That is part of the sacred bond between mother and child. Dogs cannot understand English, per say, but they memorize the sound of their owner’s voice and can respond to their name being called because of the syllables and emphasis the owner repeats. Known voices are powerful.

When I lived in Uruguay for a year doing volunteer work, my spouse was just my boyfriend. On Sunday nights, I would walk to a house that had a phone and he would call me at an arranged time. Some days, when I really missed him, I would walk to the phone company in the rural town and pay to call him and surprise him. Because he was a graduate student with a job, often he could not receive my call, so I would leave him long, sprawling, romantic voicemails. When I came home from Uruguay, he gave me a CD. Shortly after pressing play, I gasped and started sobbing. He had saved all the voicemails and set them to music. It was so powerful to hear my voice captured, and all the memories from each voicemail came flooding back to me.

Recently I took a course on Oral History and learned how to interview people in a way that encouraged them to tell their stories. Since then, I have set out to get people’s voices on tape. I played an interview of my mother talking about her Irish grandmother for my Oral History professor and he simply said, “She has a great voice.” She does. I am so glad I have not only her voice captured, but her story, my story, our story, for when she is no longer with us.

A good friend recently lost her grandmother, who she calls Mom-Mom. Her mom-mom was an Auschwitz survivor, who rarely talked about the horror that she endured as a teenager in a death camp. My friend lives the “Never again” mantra of her people, but is cognoscente of that fact that she may be part of the last generation who knew survivors of the Holocaust atrocity. Our voices matter. Our stories matter. Like the seed savers in this week’s Spirit Magazine cover story, we are called to save and pass on the story of our people. We are called to capture sacred, known voices that remind us what story we are a part of.

What is the story of your people? What is the story of your family? What are the seeds that you are called to guardian to future generations? Many phones have the capacity to record voices, to record stories easily. When a known voice around you starts telling stories, consider capturing it and caring it with you. And listen for the voice our our Shepherd this week. Jesus is here, and knows us. All we have to do is follow.

Whose voices are know to you?

Whose stories do you want to capture and keep for the next generation?

For you, what does Jesus’ voice sound like?  

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