Often, as I’m getting ready for bed, I turn on the radio. In a world of iPods, plasma screens, laptops and SurroundSound, it feels a little quaint and old-fashioned to do so. Perhaps that’s why I do it. It feels simple and quiet. It makes the world feel subdued and settled somehow. I hear the news of the day from the authoritative, level radio voices, and it helps me turn my mind off from my own day. Strange, I suppose.
I have faint memories from growing up of hearing the radio on in my parents’ room as I walked upstairs to bed. My dad listened to talk radio at night sometimes, or sports.
This past Sunday night, I caught a few minutes of Bob Edwards’ Weekend on NPR. Near the end of his shows he plays old recordings from a series that was on in the fifties. You might have heard of it. It was called “This I Believe.”
This particular episode really hit me. It was like I had my own personal radio station, and no one could possibly be hearing this broadcast except me. The words were, to steal C.S. Lewis’ phrase, like “God’s megaphone.” They really got my attention. Rather than do my get-ready-for-bed puttering, I leaned against my bed and just gave my entire attention to it. Tell me if you hear something as well.
But before you jump there, do this. Fight the temptation to read the script on the website; rather, just listen. Hit the play button, then close your eyes.
It is incredibly moving, fantastically poignant and lean. Sit close and hear his voice – you'll hear the slight catches at times, the pauses, the marvelous East Coast accent.
There were so many arresting sentences and phrases:
I was born to see and experience the love of God…What a dramatically different world we live in now. Nothing like this would be on the radio or primetime TV today. Each sentence is so dense. It will take me a long time to wade through it. I am left wondering so much about what he is saying... and not saying.
What if I do start through habit and finish in a half dream?
I believe there is nothing passive yielding my will to God’s.
It keeps me very busy … using the faith He gave me to pass up self-satisfaction for doing something I want to do anyway.
I noticed something: you may notice something quite wonderful in most everybody you meet, even in those who annoy you or frighten you. But each, in his way, is truth–neither to be rejected nor run from.
If you believe “Thy will be done,” there is less temptation to run away from yourself. You can’t escape, anyway.
And oh, what a name: Robbins Milbank. It sounds more like a character from a Faulkner novel rather than a real person. We know so little about him. But I hear the grief and years of life in his voice. It gives me pause. It honors my own suffering of these past years, and the suffering of those close to me whom I love. Life is hard. I am so glad I am not alone.