There was a cricket in my basement last night. I know, because I heard him singing.
There are spiders in my basement too. In fact, there are studies that have shown that you are never more than ten feet away from a spider (some studies say three feet). Luckily I am normally able to go through my day without thinking about that too much, primarily because unlike crickets (and not including the enchanting Charlotte of E.B. White’s famous children’s story) spiders are not a loquacious lot, and they definitely don’t sing. In fact, unless you stumble across on (or one stumbles across you), you probably won’t even realize that there is a spider in the immediate area. Crickets, on the other hand, are a different story.
Crickets are loud.
Now mind you, crickets can’t compete with even ordinary everyday sounds such as car engines, stereos and the clattering of the trash truck as it makes its rounds through the neighborhood, but let me tell you. When there is one in your basement in the middle of the night – singing when the rest of the house is silent and asleep – unlike spiders, you know that a cricket is in residence.
And yes, I am aware of the fact that they are not really singing but rubbing their wings together; specifically thick hardened ridges of their wings which cause the more delicate membranes of the wings to vibrate; amplifying the sound. I also understand that they are not singing for my benefit, but that they are doing so to attract a mate, but that doesn’t detract from the simple beauty and clarity of the sound although it DID have me wondering what on earth a cricket was doing in my basement – in January since the season for crickets (at least here where I live) is long gone.
In fact, I found myself smiling as I listened; remembering one of my favorite childhood storybooks; A Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon; a story where a young boy in New York City finds a lonely cricket in the discarded papers of the Times Square subway station. He adopts the cricket as the mascot of his family’s struggling newsstand and Chester the cricket (who is from incidentally from Connecticut) repays the family by playing a concert at their newsstand every evening; bringing in crowds of admirers and providing the family with the business that they need to survive.
In the story, Chester plays one last heart-breaking concert before he leaves to go back to his beloved meadow, and for just that moment the never ending hustle and bustle of New York’s Times Square pauses with baited breath as Chester plays his goodbye.
Just like a cricket’s song; the truth – our truth – plays constantly in our hearts. We may not pay it any attention. In fact, with so much going on in our lives; so much drama and fear; so much angst and anger; with such a mindless chattering of our thoughts, we may rarely hear it. In fact, the only times that we may hear it clearly is when we purposefully stop our mind’s continual chattering of thoughts; or when circumstances force us to pause long enough to listen; or when we wake up in the middle of the night and our minds are just uncluttered enough and unfocused enough that the song of our heart cricket comes through loud and clear.
And if you lay there long enough; listening; you’ll stop wondering about why it is that you are now able to hear your cricket. You’ll stop wondering about what it means that there has been a cricket singing away inside your heart this whole time and that you’re just now hearing it.
You’ll stop – and let the sound fill up your head; let it’s sweetly poignant melody fill up your entire existence.
And the truth of it; the beauty of it; will set you free.