Microwaves hum. Planes and cars hum. Generators hum—humming fills worlds of science, electronics, entertainment, and finance, often wall-papering the background of whatever draws our attention. Rare is silence sought after.

Yet, humming is integral to our humanness and still appears within classical music, jazz, and R&B. Their listeners, in search of distraction from spine-binding tensions, flock to venues hosting such events and pay handsomely. I was among them.

Somewhere within my long labyrinthine life, I stopped humming—Too many rules and regulations of adulthood had squelched its practice and cramped my imagination. True, classical music did quiet much of the turmoil, but as ovations of audiences subsided, hollow voices returned, until the next concert, with its reprieve. I’d also considered eastern chants, but never practiced them—too taxing upon my breathing. 

However, an overview of The Humming Effect – Sound Healing for Health and Happiness (2017) by Jonathan Goldman and Andi Goldman produces valuable suggestions for a more responsive care of our body-mind-spirit. Their experience convinced them that few realize the healing properties of humming: Engaged in consciously, their fruit is exponential: physically, humming raises oxygen in the cells, lymphatic assimilation, and levels of melatonin; it lowers stress and blood pressure and heart rates. 

Spiritually, humming interfaces with the Sacred in our depths and provides support and direction in the midst of trekking the impossible. It keeps in mind our immortal destiny and who we really are. Such was the experience of death camp survivors in the last century.

Mentally and emotionally, humming empowers us to alter attitudes and moods and concentrate on the present experience, with its new learning. Humming is also fun. 

And in my present circumstance, I‘ve still much to learn in the ensuing silence…

A chance hearing of a symphonic biography stirred memories of our country’s racism in the 1960s: riots, maiming, burnings, beatings, deaths, looting, torture, imprisonments, hospitalizations, bombings, and KKK villainy. Snarling attack dogs, fire hoses, tear gas, riot protective gear, and batons were prominent in the evening news.

Of the voices of protest none was more charismatic than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Baptist preacher and magnet for the Civil Rights Movement. Despite his 1968 assassination, his dream breathes on in the work of many, including the composer Joseph Schwantner and his symphonic biography: New Morning for the WorldDaybreak for Freedom (1982).

A narrator stands before the symphony orchestra and within the colorful and bombastic strains of this twenty-seven minutes piece melds ten excerpts from Dr. King’s speeches and essays. Referenced are the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott; the 1958 “Stride Toward Freedom;” the 1963 letter from the Birmingham jail; the 1963 “I Have a Dream speech” delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; the 1965 Selma march for voting rights; and King’s “Mountain” speech, the night before his death.

Each excerpt strikes dissonance within the instruments of the orchestra and scrapes festering wounds; yet, winds complement the depths of King’ vision, its crucifying tension sustained by prayer.

Although it’s possible to isolate salient characteristics of the 1960’s devastation in our cities, the nasty scourge of racism still whips the divide between rich and poor, gouges the social fabric with mistrust and animosity, and incites more blood-letting. Infections and fevers run rampant. In my perception, unwellness pervades the air.

Yet, I cannot be silenced. Just as Spirit buoyed Dr. King through harrowing trials into eternal life, just as Spirit moved Joseph Schwantner to compose New Morning for the WorldDaybreak for Freedom, to honor his vision, just so will Spirit enlarge our fearful hearts to rejoice, despite setbacks of any stripe. This, too, will pass.

Greed has horrific expressions but none so despicable as found in the novel Before We Were Yours (2017) written by Lisa Wingate, based upon an actual child trafficking case that continued, undetected, for three decades, until its exposé in 1950.  

The abuse took place at one of the boarding homes of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis, Tennessee; its director, Georgia Tann. Widely touted as the Mother of orphans and unwanted children—even drawing the notice of Eleanor Roosevelt—she was far from that—cunning, manipulative, and money-hungry. Her accomplices were ever on the lookout for stray, unwanted children; lovely ones were ripe for adoption with lucrative fees.

The story stood by itself until the author fleshed it out with Depression-era river-rats snatched from a houseboat moored at Mud Island near the Mississippi River. Only after having been subdued and driven to Memphis were the Foss kids locked inside the sprawling white-columned home, in great disrepair, and forced to comply with the mean-spirited staff, including the sexually abusive janitor, and stinking accommodations. 

Suspense glistens on every page of this novel, Before We Were Yours. Seasonal changes, so integral to the plot, waft authentic colors, smells, and sounds into the southern panorama. Silence has never been more silent, nor sinister. Only an intrepid heart can follow the abrupt emotional and physical changes as the Fosses work out their destiny; their cat-and mouse stratagems with their jailers left me breathless.

Never having been involved with a child-victim of trafficking, I was deeply moved by Lisa Wingate’s brilliant handling of this material. Before We Were Yours is a must read.

Available on Amazon

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