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Sounds of Eternal Praise

Updated: Aug 28, 2022

A child's point of view

Clay face of old bald man with a smile, and two nails for eyes fixing it to a cedarwood wall.
Clay face near the back door of Evergreen, singing praises to the flowering native plants nearby. Face made by Rob.

Once upon a time, I was a little girl, about nine years old. I sat at the kitchen table at 6.00 am as early morning light filtered through the Venetian blinds and played shadow patterns over the grey linoleum tabletop, and on my open Bible. Dad’s quiet, steady voice read from the Book of Revelation, chapter 4, verses 6 - 8:

And before the throne was something like a sea of glass, as clear as crystal. In the centre, around the throne, were four living creatures, covered with eyes in front and back.

I imagine a gold throne with God sitting on it, surrounded by a sheet of glass as smooth and bright as the Swan River on a very still, spring day. I imagine four dogs with eyes all over them instead of hair. But I’m wrong.

The first living creature was like a lion, the second like a calf, the third had a face like a man, and the fourth was like an eagle in flight.

After rearranging my mental image of God’s throne room, I recall a stuffed dingo and kookaburra I saw at the museum on a school outing. The kookaburra didn’t look like it had ever flown. I squirm in the chair and try to concentrate on Dad’s voice, not my thoughts.

And each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around and within. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

I cringe with embarrassment for God.

Who’d want someone or something to sing their praises all day? Does He really need that? Surely he’d get sick of it after a few minutes and tell them to quit stating the obvious. I imagine Him lifting up both arms and shouting, “Be quiet!” But apparently, He never has, and He never will. This goes on day and night, forever and ever, like a stuck record on our gramophone player.

Mum switches off the radio if she doesn’t want to listen to it anymore and teachers at school yell at us to if we make too much noise. Why doesn’t God tell the four living creatures to go away and do something useful, like, maybe, play with the angels?

I'm glad God doesn't expect me to sing praises to Him all day because I sing out of tune. He'd be putting His hands over His ears and telling me to stop before I'd sung more than one Holy, Holy, Holy.

Sunlight is now streaming through the Venetian blinds. It’s 6.30 am. Time to leave the kitchen table and troop down the short hallway to the bedroom where I and my sisters sleep. We kneel around my bed with Mum and Dad and take turns praying to our Father in heaven. I praise Him for being so big and kind, although I know it’s a paltry offering when compared to the glorious singing voices of the four living creatures.

Oneness Sings and Oneness Listens

I’ve lived many decades since that kitchen table introduction to a quirk in God’s character – His very human insatiable desire for praise. And the older I get the more I’ve come to realise that the Bible is one of the most mistranslated and misinterpreted books of all time. It’s also probably packed with symbolism and not to be taken literally.

My childhood mental image of a literal God on a literal throne has disappeared. Four beasts don’t sing an endless loop of Holy, Holy, Holy to a man-made image of a creator.

Instead, the whole of creation is always singing praises through the simple fact of its existence. The praise isn’t sung to a jealous, vengeful male God. It’s sung to Oneness, which can’t be explained or understood through human words.

The whole creation of Oneness sings, and Oneness listens.

I sing too, through the simple fact of my existence.

And, for once, I’m not out of tune.

With love, Marlane

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