The City Was as Beautiful as a Singing Orchard
“The trees of the forest shall sing for joy.” – 1 Chronicles 16:33
At nine yeas old, standing in my neighbor’s cherry orchard, I saw trees so heavy their branches touched the ground. The wind came up and the branches began to sway. Hundreds of trees in neat rows, almost dancing, the rustle of leaves coordinated to the whip of the wind and the creak of fruit branches; the orchard sang.
In Chicago, orchards don’t sing, but things do get flung into praise. Last week I was vacuuming. Our living room window looks directly out onto a crowded grade school playground. There must have been 250 kids, all running, leaping, hollering. I watched them as a I worked. But I couldn’t hear them. The vacuum was loud and my stereo was louder. I think housecleaning and punk rock go together like jeans and sweaters.
I was listening to this jittery stop-start singalong song. The kids couldn’t hear it over the street noise and their recess screaming. But right when the song hit its break-beat, their play became syncopated to the music. More than 200 kids jumping up and down, skater-hair and pigtails, afros and bowl cuts all bopping up and down in rhythm to my vacuum song. I started dancing too.
And for a moment the city was as beautiful as a singing orchard. Angry guitars, children roiled by springtime energy, me and my vacuum, all coordinated, all joyful, singing loud, loud praises to our maker, not on purpose, just by being.
Surprise me with joy today, O God.
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ in Chicago. He is the host of “Preachers on Preaching,” a weekly podcast sponsored by The Christian Century.