Posted in Longreads and Essays

The Song of the Cricket

In the waiting room of the doctor’s office, I watch a small cricket crawl slowly across the floor, heading toward the shadows beneath the stand where the laptop with my medical records sits. In a moment, the doctor will enter, close the door, and tell me the results of the scan. He will be unaware of the cricket and I will keep the information to myself.

I have always had a fondness for these creatures, not simply as bait for largemouth bass. Rather, I see them more as the insect version of the Sarajevo cellist. They play for love, even though each scrape of their hindlegs can be a death sentence if the predator finds them before a lover. Still, the compulsion remains to play loud and long, even with the disconcerting knowledge that one may be in the sniper’s sight.

I wait for the cricket to start its song from the relative safety of the shadows. The doctor enters and we talk. The cricket remains silent. The scan is negative, but informative. I am pronounced healthy and sound.

Each day is filled with the song of the cricket, if I open my heart and mind to listen. A conversation with an elder artist who finds precious things in the refuse of the dead. The James Lee Burke audiobook in my earbuds which fades to a whisper as I walk beside a rumbling freight train. The joyous screams of children in the play area of the mall in Silver Spring. The gospel songs of an accapella women’s group on the sidewalk outside the Chick-fil-A. A band trio starting off their set with Mr. Tambourine Man at the former ice rink as they wait for their drummer. The music of an adhoc family band in an old country church as we celebrate my parents’ years of ministry. An encouraging word from a mentor that God still has much for me to do. The rain on the tent canopy above us as we talk.

Death is all around us. That is a given. Someday, perhaps the news from the doctor will be grim. Yet, we must not allow the spectre to silence the song, whether we are the singer or the one straining to hear the melody of love.

Listen. The song is everywhere. The sting of death lost its potency long ago. We continue to pronounce its demise when we give ear or voice to the song.

Tonight, a small dark creature, its carapace glistening in the vampire glow of dormant machines, will crawl from beneath a cupboard, tune its fiddle-legs, and, regardless of the cost, proceed to fill an empty doctor’s office with its song.

3 thoughts on “The Song of the Cricket

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