What do you hear or see?

Grace to you

So what did you hear? “Laurel” or “Yanny”? In case you don’t know what I am referring to, let me explain. There was an audio clip released on the internet this past week in which the name being said depended on the listener. Some people hear “Laurel” while others hear “Yanny”. The reason people hear different names is because of our different sensitivity to varying frequencies of the words. “Laurel” is strongest in lower frequencies, while “Yanny” is stronger in higher frequencies.

I heard “Laurel” the first time via a radio show but when I listened to it again on the internet I heard “Yanny”. Clearly the radio emphasized the lower frequencies and the internet version emphasized the higher frequencies. The medium affects the message.

This is a verbal version of the famous picture of the duck and rabbit. Some see the duck and others see the rabbit.

The Laurel and Yanny sound clip and the duck and rabbit picture remind us that we can hear and see different things to the people around us even though we are listening and watching the same thing. It is a reminder that what others hear and see may be as true as what we hear and see, though different. In other words truth can be multi-faceted.

This invites us to be humble and generous of spirit especially when we hear or see something so clearly that we are convinced it is all there is to hear and see. The temptation is to say the one who differs with us is wrong – and even stupid for being wrong, but we would be better to ask a question than accuse. “I see a rabbit but show me where you see a duck.”

It has been said that “90% of what we see lies behind our eyes”. In other words we see things how we are and not necessarily as things are. We bring our values and bias and fears and longings to everything we see which alter what we see. This is why it is so important to have people in our lives who are different from us in all sorts of beautiful ways: colour; class; faith; sexuality; age; culture and even those who believe in unicorns.

Today is Pentecost – a day when some heard the tongues of angels while others heard the tongues of drunkards.  Today we are invited to tune in again to hear afresh what the Spirit is saying. We may only know we have heard faithfully if barriers are broken down and a radical diversity shapes our community, as was birthed that first Pentecost Day.


What do you see: an old woman or a young woman?

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