My second son, Adriel Sebastian Brandt, is a freelance artist gifted with a—here I was searching for an appropriate affirming superlative but could not find one that does justice, so you will just have to listen to it—voice that he has used in stage acting, poetry recitation, and recording audio books. Here is a link to a partial reading of “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. This classic piece of literature, a wise and thoughtful reflection on life, is given reverence and respect by Adriel’s seasoned, whiskey-smooth baritone voice.

What of a voice? A voice is commonly defined as “the sound produced in a person’s larynx and uttered through the mouth”. This is what I was initially referring to above. Although sometimes my brother and I have fooled people with the similarity of our voices, each person has a unique voice. Voice can also be a verb as in “to express something, usually with words.”

My calling as a professor and a preacher requires both of the above but I want to focus on the latter. My job as a preacher and a professor of spiritual formation is to give voice to what is going on inside each of my listeners’ hearts/psyches/spirits/insides, whatever you want to call it. My job is not to impart new information which they can then regurgitate on an exam. No! My job is to give words, to articulate, to express, to voice what each one is experiencing as they connect to the divine. I do not tell them how they must experience God. I do not give them a magic formula for growing in their love for God and others. I help them find a voice. And, I believe that by finding their voice, people begin to come alive; people begin to truly be themselves.

This is why people talk and write about the importance of giving everyone a voice or “I want to give a voice to the voiceless” which usually refers to those who are forgotten or marginalized on the edges of society. Artists in particular, have given voice to what is within us through poetry, stories, paintings, music, theatre, film, sculpture, dance, and the like. Unfortunately and ironically, in times of austerity as we have in the present, it is our artists who suffer financially along with the other marginalized people. Listen to the voices of the artists, and pay them for their services when you can.