Without a Voice
“I need a pharmacist consult,” yelled the cashier who’d once worn jewelry in her eyebrow. Now she was left with a pucker where the rings had once resided. I wondered what had made her decide to remove them, but I wouldn’t have asked even if I’d been able. Instead, I moved obediently over to the next window.
The pharmacist stepped tentatively up to the opening. She seemed overly anxious as she shifted her small frame from one foot to the other. Her eyes darted up at me and then back down to the bag she held in her hand. She inhaled rapidly, ripped open the bag, and shook the contents out into her hand. She flipped over the card of pills, each in its own little section, and began to gesture wildly. Her index finger stabbed at some writing on the back of each unit, but her hands were moving so spastically that I couldn’t see what was written.
Oh dear, I thought to myself. Someone’s told her I can’t speak, and she thinks I’m deaf too. Poor thing, she looks like she’s about to have a nervous breakdown.
I took a careful breath, leaned forward and concentrated on the words I wanted to say, “I can hear, but I can’t talk.” Instead of a flow of words, a croaking sound came from the back of my throat. The woman stepped back with a look of horror on her face.
I was reaching for my pad of paper and pen when the helpful cashier yelled out, “She can hear; she just can’t speak.”
“Oh,” the pharmacist said, and all of her agitation dropped away.
In the four days since I’d lost my voice, I’d noticed some pretty curious behavior from the people around me. Mostly they talked in loud, choppy sentences as they tried to pantomime what it was they wanted me to know. “Do..you..want..the salt..or..the pepper?” This would be said while the person alternately held salt and then pepper high in the air for me to see. Usually, after a minute or so, they’d realize what they were doing and laugh at themselves.
I also noticed something else. At first friends told me, “It’s weird having you not talk. I’m used to you carrying the conversation.” But after a couple minutes of silent Laura, even the quietest of my acquaintances would begin to talk. The longer I sat there nodding my head or occasionally scratching out a question on my notepad, the more they talked. Formulating a response was of no use; so I listened, really listened. Getting someone else to open up would take another two minutes of long, uncomfortable silence; so I was content to sit and listen to that one person.
As I reflected on those one sided conversations, the obvious lesson was driven home. I learned a lot when I wasn’t doing the talking.
A verse began to roll around in this speechless head of mine. “Be still, and know that I am God.” We spend a lot of time talking about who God is, what He’s done for us, and how amazing He is. Occasionally it is good to stop; be still; listen – really listen; and know that He is God.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10