humming to snails
What did you do on summer vacation?
Our children have been answering this question
all week in classrooms all over the city,
but I’m afraid no one will ask me.
So I’ve decided to tell you anyway.
I learned to hum to snails.
On a lazy Sunday afternoon in July,
I sat with my ten-year-old cousin
on the rocky shore of the Damariscotta River in Maine.
I watched as he patiently held a snail
that he had plucked from the rocks—
and hummed to it!
I didn’t know whom to watch,
the boy or the snail,
but soon I saw two antennae appear from the shell
and the snail began to dance!
Of course, I had to try it.
It wasn’t long before all the other adults
had moved from the porch down to the rocks,
each one holding a snail and humming to it.
A dance troupe of snails!
Two things struck me about the experience.
One was the quiet power of that youngster
in teaching us something about our world.
He didn’t tell us anything, but allowed us to discover it for ourselves.
We forgot our adult anxieties
about looking silly
and abandoned ourselves to humming.
The other was in the form of a theological question.
Is there something out there in the universe
humming for us to come out of our shells,
urging us to dance?
Trying to understand what moves us
is one of the reasons we come together in a religious community.
--the Rev. Dr. Midge Skwire,
in "For All That Is Our Life," Skinner House Books 2005