The doe staggered toward the barking dog — and toward the fence that separated her forest from the dog’s yard. Under that blanket of fierce sound, the doe splayed her legs at odd angles and delivered a fawn. The dog, hysterical now, barked louder than before. The doe lay down, rested a bit, and rose again to deliver a second fawn.
The doe seemed to know that there — against the fence, amid the noise, in distant view of my friend’s kitchen — she could safely allow her babies to be born. That the stillness of her forest home, her natural community, exposed her to greater risks than the borderlands of suburbia, where a barking dog attracted human eyes but scared away her predators.
I think of what I’ve pushed into the world when all around me was noise. Typically, I’m the rabbit who will tremble, freeze and try to disappear until the threat exhausts itself. Eventually I’ll move again, but my idea has turned back up the birth canal to await a better time (or maybe never) to emerge.
Sometimes, though, noise creates a cocoon or even ignition for me to find and release what’s inside. When I’m alone, there’s the nurturing quilt of cafe sounds, playlists or birdsongs. In company, I love the wild flinging about of ideas when a group ignites itself with the joy of being together and explores insights and connections impossible to reach alone.
I love best what happens with one other person, maybe over pancakes or a sub, where we roll each other’s ideas into a bigger and bigger snowball, interrupting each other loudly in service of the larger point. We will enrich each other’s ideas with noisy enthusiasm until we are able to stack them, ornament them, and then step back, exhausted, to see what we’ve built. That wall of sound — baffling and even unwelcoming to anyone else — fosters our creativity and the birth of something new.
I struggle to find my voice sometimes. I’ll deny my ideas and refuse to give them outlet when the cost is too high. An unexpected hostile bark will startle me to flee and teach me not to go that way again. For me, I guess, the deterrent is the surprise, not the noise.
May I be like the doe who walks toward the noise of others’ ideas. May I share the doe’s confidence in what is inside her; may I share her commitment to letting it out. May I also understand that the noise of others’ ideas can create the environment where my own ideas can productively emerge — and that my voice matters. May I be able to hear what others are actually saying, like the disciples amid the cacophony at the Pentecost, and understand that there’s plenty of room for my voice too. May I change the noise by adding my sounds to it.
I wrote this piece for Five Minute Friday, a faith-based community site. Follow this link to see other short essays about “Born.”
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