What might it mean for us to be listening to the unheard voice in the midst of confusing and traumatic events in our own communities or society?
If Cleopas and his companion are our example, then listening to the unheard voice in the midst of trauma and confusion means listening to something foreign. I found Alison’s commentary (in the essay) on the word for ‘resident alien’ to be quite eye opening. My sister just recently visited Iceland, and returning she exclaimed how dumbfounding it was not to be able to hear the names of cities and places when locals spoke to her—especially since they were often speaking to her in English! Structural linguists have pointed out that phonemic differentiation is a pre-requisite for sorting out any stream of phonetic particulars. My sister couldn’t hear Icelandic place-names because she didn’t know what to listen for. Our first hearing of the unheard voice, I suspect, could sound like the sort of nonsense we feel we might could make sense of somehow—but can’t.

Or, perhaps, listening to the unheard voice is like having your expectations met in a quite unexpected way. Cleopas and his companion recline for a prepared meal, only to find out that they were the guests—not the hosts.