My writing Muse has been silent for weeks now. Maybe months. I suspect I could trace it back to November, when Denial about the legion issues that separate us, died. For many, as it became clear that our wholeness hinges on talking about uncomfortable things–issues we had become expert at avoiding, we simultaneously strengthened our resolve, and completely lost our voice.
Maybe you are afflicted too.
I even developed a full-blown case of laryngitis that had me hidden beneath a towel, inhaling steam infused with homeopathic remedies.
A voice is a hard thing to lose when one is called to use words as her medium.
Silence. There is a sound to it after all, and that sound takes many forms.
There is comfortable silence, the communications of those who sit near one another, overcome by grief, thinking about the unthinkable that has now taken place. Silence comes with its arms wide, wrapping itself around those it honors. It mimes, shhhhh.
There is awkward silence, words not spoken in a moment when words are called for. A bully berating the bullied with acoustically-harsh, staccato-attacks. Silence accuses those who stand idly by and will neither look away nor speak for the silent.
There is silence of honor. The uniformed kneeling in front of the newly alone, the flag representing a compressed life; a courage, a faithfulness only few could muster. Silence stands guard, signaling to those present: be still.
There is terrified silence, communicated with wide eyes and a hand covering a shadowed mouth lest the brain forgets that the moment demands: not.one.sound.
There is strained silence, as in between two who remain together but should have parted ways long ago: Silence roars between them.
There is reverent silence, prayers that can only be written on the interior of one’s mind, fingers intertwined and clutching as if holding a rope that is one’s only hope. Silence speaks the language of the troubled.
Silence. A universal language we are born to hear and speak. Some far more fluently than others.
Sweet silence is spoken in the moments after the baby’s cries morph into baby sighs and new-to-life breathing matches the rhythm of the clock in the hall.
There is the silence of knowing you have just witnessed or experienced with every sense, beauty, artistry, purity, life’s best, and no adjective is sufficient to describe it. Perhaps you look into the eyes of the one who witnessed it with you. Silence urges you not to look away.
There is the silence of relief, often short-lived and broken by choked sobs of joy. Silence says: your hoped-for has come.
In a world filled with words—spoken, shouted, whispered, scrawled, typed, sung, memorized, sobbed, prayed, there is no word that adequately transcribes silence. And that makes it no less a living, breathing, presence.
It is a sound that marks a moment in which we face a situation that catches us off-guard. It takes our breath away, and our words with it.
If you too have fallen silent in recent weeks, know this: you are not alone. Silence prescribes listening. Rarely a poor choice of wordless.
“Be Still and Know” -Psalm 46