“Silence is the language of god, all else is poor translation.” ~ Rumi
The hardest time, I believe, was right after dad had the stroke. He was in the acute rehab section of the hospital and looked like a lost child.
His eyes would take in a face in the dining room as he ate his lunch or dinner, but they were unreadable. His expression was blank. He seemed to be lost in some strange world, trying to decide how he landed there.
My mother, brother and I took turns being with him. For a month. We stayed by his side and helped him as best we could because he was unable to ask for what he needed. So we brought water. Food. Asked the staff for what he couldn’t ask for himself.
The stroke impacted his cognition but he also was diagnosed with aphasia.
For those who don’t know what this is, aphasia is a neurological disorder caused by damage to portions of the brain that makes it difficult to speak or understand speech.
This felt cruel and sad because dad had been a “word” person.
He once gave inspirational and motivational talks and lectures around the world. After he spoke, many people found the God within or said they had found a certain kind of healing. The Divine had channeled its love through dad’s spoken word to reach out and touch many people.
Why do I share all this? Because dad’s journey reminds me of the power of words.
And as a writer, I’m all about words. They have tremendous energy and emit a vibration. We can use them to heal or hurt. Bless or curse.
They are the tools we use to create and the choices we make in that creation are critical.
In many spiritual traditions the “word” is the beginning of creation. The Bible states that “in the beginning was the Word …” and in Indic Vedic thought the Word — Aum — is how the universe began.
Words help us know we’re not alone.
Spoken words of “good morning” to the cashier in the grocery store, a compliment to a co-worker, encouragement to a teen or elderly person — all can revive drooping spirits.
The opposite can also happen. One time, stuck in traffic with windows open, the driver next to me began cursing with vitriol at the driver in front of him. His words sliced through the air like knives.
Dad has come a long way these last three years since the stroke. Thanks to the goodness and kindness of the speech therapist at the hospital who has since become a dear friend, dad speaks.
But he still struggles to find words. He has good days and bad days. And it breaks my heart when he can’t finish a sentence, when he has the word lodged somewhere in his brain but he can’t retrieve it or put meaning to it. So I wait. I pray.
I have come to see all this as a lesson for me. As much as I love words, I also find them to be barriers.
Some things in life simply can’t be expressed verbally or on paper. The look in someone’s eyes, the touch of a hand, the welling up of joy at a luminous sunrise over the ocean or the anguish and heartache of losing a loved one.
In truth, sometimes silence is the most effective way to communicate.
So, when dad can’t find the words, I touch that depth of silence. This is a good space. Perhaps it is the authentic and generative energy where creation truly happens.
Words are birthed. But silence is the womb.
And what is it we wish to bear and deliver to the world?