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Shared Silence

When the doctor prescribed complete vocal silence, a singer and her husband find a new and improved way to communicate.

Edward and Millie

Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live…—Isaiah 55:3

My wife is a singer. A couple of years ago she was preparing for a concert at Radio City Music Hall when she lost her voice. Her throat doctor diagnosed swollen vocal cords due to over-rehearsing and prescribed total vocal rest. “Don’t speak a word,” he said. “Not a sound until the morning of the show.”

Julee, I can tell you, is not the silent type, and those few difficult days were an odyssey. Everywhere she went Julee carried a pad and pencil. Our apartment was festooned with those little yellow stick-on notes. And when it came to our having a simple difference of opinion, I would have my say, then wait for Julee to write out her response. That lull in the action invariably gave my hackles time to go down a bit. Julee’s words, tempered in the very writing and devoid of vocal inflection and volume, seemed so much less threatening. I had to focus on what she wrote if I were to understand her. The funny thing was the less Julee said, the harder I had to listen. We learned a lot about communication—the importance of a passing touch, a lingering look, the communing comfort of shared silence.

Julee’s voice returned stronger than ever, and the concert was a success. While she chatted with friends in her dressing room afterward, I slipped across the street and got her a small box of fudge, chocolate having been at the top of the disheartening list of foods forbidden by the voice doctor. As I put the box in her hand, she was about to say something. Then she grabbed her pad and scribbled, “Thank you!”

Thank You, God, for showing me how to listen. In Your words I find all wisdom.

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