If I can't see you for some reason but can only hear you, you don't exist for me in space, which is where seeing happens, but in time, which is where hearing happens. Your words follow one after the other the way tock follows tick. When I have only the sound of you to go by, I don't experience you as an object the way I would if you stood before me — something that I can walk around, inspect from all angles, more or less define. I experience you more the way I experience the beating of my own heart or the flow of my own thoughts. A deaf man coming upon me listening to you would think that nothing of importance was going on. But something of extraordinary importance is going on. I am taking you more fully into myself than I can any other way. Hearing you speak brings me by the most direct of all routes something of the innermost secret of who you are.
It is no surprise that the Bible uses hearing, not seeing, as the predominant image for the way human beings know God. They can't walk around God and take God in like a cathedral or an artichoke. They can only listen to time for the sound of God — to the good times and bad times of their own lives for the words God is addressing to, of all people, them.
~originally published in Whistling in the Dark and later in Beyond Words