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?

Life vs Life

Newspaper House parking garage flooded on 18 May 2014



At Pentecost, the church celebrates the coming of the Spirit — the outpouring of the sudden power of God to transform a wounded and disillusioned band of stragglers into a community that changed the world.

It was a power that was both awaited in obedience, and utterly unexpected in its energy and urgency. It generated both a deep interior fire, and immediate, compelling and outrageous public witness.

~ Janet Morley


This past week we witnessed the cruel eviction of some 200 families from the informal settlement in Lwandle. Who was actually responsible for the eviction or whether it was “legal or not” is not the issue. The timing and the manner in which it was conducted was neither just nor merciful and therefore it was anti-Christ-like.

We are collecting food, clothes, blankets, toiletries, baby food and the like. If you would like to drop them off here at CMM during the week we will make sure that they are delivered with your love.


On 18 May at the time we were getting ready for our morning service a driver hit a water pipe in the basement garage of Newspaper House around the corner from us. With nowhere to run the water quickly rose — reaching a height of 1.5 m in some areas — that is up to the windows of some cars! As a result of the “flood” an electrical grid was “knocked out”. And since 19 May until 3 June about six of these giant generators have been keeping the lights on (see insert). For nearly three weeks these generators have been rumbling noisily 24/7. This has provoked many thoughts within me — most of which have not been polite, especially as the sleepless nights add up.

But now I think it’s good to have had the non-stop rumbling to be reminded of our incessant consumption of fossil fuels that we rely on to sustain our unsustainable modern lives. The truth of the creation groaning in agony (Romans 8:22) is too often hidden within the silence of electrical currents allowing us to pretend that our way of life is less harmful than it is. So I began to hear the assaulting noise of the generators as the earth’s cry in response to our assaulting extraction of coal from which most of our power supply comes. I fear we will only stop destroying the planet when we are personally disturbed.

As I write this I have just received an invitation to sign an online petition calling the new Minister of Mineral Resources to scrap the possibility of a coal mine being developed right on the borders of the spectacular Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park — the world’s greatest rhino sanctuary. The humbling truth is that it is easier to sign an online petition than to reduce my own dependency on fossil fuels. In my mind I ask: Where does one even begin and what difference will it make? But this is the challenge that should be occupying all of us.

Grace, Alan