‘echos of the uncanny…’

I didn’t know if there was anything like a God. I didn’t care. But it was mostly clear to me we were not just castaways in some tohubohu bearing an ensign of meaning only for those desperate enough to concoct one: I felt mostly certain more was going on than met the eye—despite not having a real clue just what that “more” might entail. My assuredness on these matters owed less to faith than it did to experience, for I’d been hearing echoes of the uncanny since early childhood.


It is that time of the night. The time when this side of the world is quiet in slumber, the time when hearing ‘echoes of the uncanny’ may not be so unusual.

I lay in bed – listening.

It may be the voice of my grandmother or the laughter of my aunt, long since gone before my eyes. I may hear rain tapping on my window or the call of an owl high in the sturdiest branch of a tall pine by the lake.

Tonight I invite these echoes. This is the evening of Thanksgiving, a time of gathering. Today my sister’s house was filled with family, ever-growing. We celebrated my nephew’s wedding this summer and happily the new couple was among us. There were partners and their relatives, parents from different generations, for which we are ever grateful. And for the first time, in more years than I can count, my brother, his wife, and youngest daughter joined us at the table having recently moved from the West Coast back to North Carolina.

Reflecting on this celebration, I begin to reminisce on Thanksgivings from times past. My first year in college, far away, in Colorado, I can hear echoes of laughter from my aunt and uncle’s voice as we sat with my cousins around a huge table in New Mexico. My first year in graduate school, again too far to come home, my apartment was the place to go for all the divinity school “orphans” spending the holiday in Cambridge. I can hear echoes of Boston accents and remember the taste of New England chowder. Over the years this particular holiday has always been filled with new voices and unique stories

The echoes of these voices, and many more, never fade. I consider this group of people travelers on life’s journey. There is no rhyme or reason as to how most of these gatherings occurred. They were opportunities to experience something greater than what can be organized. Doors were opened and one more place at the table was set.

As the quote above describes so well, ‘more is certainly going on than meets the eye’. To be comfortable with this description creates a world filled with curious and blessed moments.

I lie in bed listening for echoes that stir a grateful heart.


Quote: Ayad Akhtar, Homeland Quote: Elegies: A Novel (Little, Brown and Company, September 15, 2020)
Photo: David Kanigan

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