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The Voice of the Sea



Pottering along the grey, blustery seafront at the start of the year, an inscription on a bench caught my eye. It read, 'The voice of the sea speaks to the soul'*. I took a photo and carried on walking, repeating the words to myself, on a loop. The more I've thought about these words, the more I have been thinking about the possible comfort brought by the the sea, and other sounds which might be described as a voice without words that nevertheless 'speaks' to us. The crackle of a fire, the hiss of a kettle, or the click and turn of a key in the lock as the person we love arrives home from work.


In the course of my work as Story Chaplain, I've spent a number of years thinking about Comfort Words, those words which comfort, nourish, and sustain us throughout our lives. While comfort words might include literature and poetry, they may just as likely include a birthday card with a thoughtful note, or a ticket stub from an event that holds personal significance.


But beyond the published word, or those apparently disposable words which we hold as precious due to their personal significance, how might it be possible to capture the 'comfort sounds' in our lives, the everyday soundtrack of our days which creates a background of comfort, peace, or safety? While an audio recording might most faithfully capture the sound itself, I wonder if a simple list of sounds might somehow create a catalogue of comfort.


By recording the sometimes small but significant sounds in our lives, we are marking and capturing mundane, but perhaps intimate moments that might otherwise be forgotten or lost. The familiar creak of a sofa, the sound of the washing machine finishing its cycle, or the tiny sigh of a baby in their sleep (this last one I am particularly cherishing during this season of my life).


The voice of the sigh speaks to the soul.


What 'comfort sounds' can you make a note of today, or in the coming days?


*I have since looked up the quote, and it's a line from 'The Awakening' by Kate Chopin.