When you shout into a well, the sound of your shout travels down the well and is reflected (echoes) off the surface of the water at the bottom of the well. If you measure the time it takes for the echo to return and if you know the speed of sound, you can calculate the depth of the well fairly accurately.
HOW DEEP IS THE WELL?
Echo is something you have experienced many times. In nature, if you shout into a well or a canyon, the echo comes back a moment later. But if you have not had the joy of hearing your voice come back to you across the hills, you most certainly have had the pleasure of hearing the voices of others enhanced by echos.
In music, the use of acoustic echo and reverberation effects dates back many hundreds of years. An echo chamber, a hollow enclosure used to produce reverberated sounds, is used regularly in modern recording studios. Medieval and Renaissance sacred music relied heavily on the composers’ extensive understanding and use of the complex natural reverberation and echoes inside churches and cathedrals.
The interior has one of the longest-lasting echos of any building in the world, a phenomenon dramatically demonstrated to visitors by slamming the entrance doors.
Another curiosity of the interior architecture is the “Whispering Wa‘s” or walls. Two people can stand at either end of one of the curved interior walls, facing away from each other into the niche of the wall, and hold a whispered conversation. The remarkable acoustics of the walls project the sound to the listener at the other side.
Echos from mountaintops and from inside cathedrals are delightful surprises.
Echos in music studios are required mechanics.
Echos in human relationships – well…they are either delightful or painful, depending on who sends the echo back to you.
And then there are the times when the well has no bottom and the echo never comes back.
My letter to Deborah was one of many attempts at shouting from the hilltop.
My first thought was to reach out to the experts of evangelization on EWTN’s program, The Journey Home. Calling their ministry, I reached one of their key people who quickly responded to my first complaint. “That’s unconscionable, charging money for the class. In my parish, we actually make gifts to class members…a Bible and rosary beads. We bring catechisms to class for them to use.” Encouraged, I asked him what I could do about it…who would set things right in my parish.
My hopes were quickly dashed. “RCIA is designed in each parish,” he said, “and it’s not the church’s responsibility to tell them how to run their program. Wait a couple of years until you are inside the church and then see what you can do in your own parish to bring about change for the parish. Or you can go to another parish.” Not the echo I had hoped for.
I called the parish class leader of RCIA to ask about the fee of $60 for the class. She said the fee was already part of the RCIA program when she came to the parish and had agreed to lead the class. An uninformed echo.
I called the education office for the Diocese and asked for the priest I had heard on our local radio station. The receptionist said he would love to speak to me because they had been discussing improvements in educational programs. I left a message. Anticipation of an echo.
I let it rest…except for the letter sent to Deborah…and another short e-mail asking help from a University Professor host on EWTN who had recently been appointed by the Vatican to help direct efforts in the New Evangelization. At least, neither Deborah nor the Professor sent me a disappointing echo.
They sent no echo at all. My efforts had gone down a well with no bottom.
*Names have been changed.
NEXT: TAKING A DEEP BREATH
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