“At Christmas, all roads lead home.” ~Marjorie Holmes
The sound of travel thrills me. My earliest memory of this auditory obsession dates back to the early 80’s. I remember walking up and down the dirt drive in front of my grandparents’ old chicken house just to hear the gravel crunch beneath my Jordache sneakers. Besides listening to my grandmother read, it was my favorite thing to do at their house.
Back home, my ears soaked up the hiss and pop as I rode my bike over our bumpy, orange-colored chert drive. When I was old enough to ride the streets of my neighborhood, the hum of rubber on asphalt added to the thrill of the wind in my hair. At sixteen, I traded my banana seat in for a red Chevy Cavalier. I rolled my windows down to hear the tires crush the rocks on the dirt roads of my small town.
Even now, I find inspiration in the distant whir of jet engines passing over my house. I consider the hopeful travelers on board. Vacations, family, business deals, and discovered dreams wait on the other side of their journey. I recall the roar of the takeoff during my own airplane rides, each journey a memory of personal bravery.
The Christmas season is full of opportunities to listen as we travel. Be it by air, highway, or a walk down a well-worn path, we set out to celebrate the newborn King with family and friends. It is also the season to imagine the carol of traveling sounds playing around the characters of the nativity as they find their places around the manger:
The rhythmic clip-clop of donkey hooves on the road to Bethlehem.
The slap of leather sandals on the street as a husband desperately searches for a safe place to deliver a son.
The chorus of angels as the shepherds turn their flocks toward the stable.
The intermittent grunt of camels and jingle of golden coins as a caravan of wise men traverses the long miles.
One sound eludes my imagination. Close your eyes with me, and listen. We have to be stone-still to hear it. What does it sound like when heaven comes to earth?
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