The Power of Silence

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is silence worth?


After pulling courage from every cell in every corner of her body to hit send, now there was nothing to do but wait.  Laura sat alone on her bus seat, legs pulled up in front of her, and a braid twisting back and forth in her hands.  He had just been texting with her so she knew he had his phone.  Maybe his battery had died, or his mom had called him inside, or a lightening bolt had struck the cell tower.  Or maybe he had so totally freaked out that she said she liked him that he had thrown his phone into the nearest ditch.  She knew that staring at the screen wouldn’t change anything but even the microseconds of a blink seemed too long to not keep watching.  Finally, after century-long seconds, three dots appeared in a bubble.


Sam had been planning for this moment for months, and now here it was with one knee damp from the grass and the other starting to shake just a little.  Every thing else he had planned, but he didn’t know how she would answer.  When he bought the ring, he promised himself, with the cashier as his witness, that he would get her a much bigger one some day.  One that was more worthy of how amazing she is.  The restaurant reservations were made two weeks in advance, and prayers to the weather gods said over and over as the phone app predicted a summer shower.  He had one shot to make this perfect, and no soggy knee would ruin it.  Only one thing would.  Sam stared into the eyes of the woman he wanted as his bride, and wondered if her parting lips would say yes or no.


Fingers intertwined as the two minute timer ticked away.  The only sound in the tiny bathroom were their breaths that filled the space like thunder.  Since Darryl had laid the test on the counter, neither he or Chloe had moved, and even their breaths had slowed to try and quiet the room.  Chloe held her left hand over her stomach, wondering if the nausea was hope, fear, or life.  Darryl’s right hand gripped his knee, leaving marks that he wouldn’t notice until later in the day.  Both balanced on the edge of the linoleum tub, not willing to move for fear of messing up the test and having to start over again.  For the first time since moving into this studio walk-up, the street out front even seemed quiet, as though the city was having pity on this young couple’s wait to become a family.  One kept her eyes closed, not able to watch the seconds pass, while the other stared steadily on, willing the time to speed up and for the answer to go their way.


A few of the younger cousins had wandered down to the cafeteria, but most of the family still filled the waiting room.  A few women paced back and forth together, glancing at the doors then turning back for another loop.  Some of the brothers huddled together with paper coffee cups clutched in their hands.  Grandpa was sitting in the middle of the room, staring down at the rosary beads between his fingers and silently speaking prayers over and over again.  It had been hours since the ambulance brought Grandma in, but it felt like days or longer.  With no windows in the area, it was hard to tell if it was still day or night, or perhaps even tomorrow.  The television in the corner was on mute with captions flowing across the bottom of the screen.  The various hosts talked about events around the world, but no one in this room cared.  What they cared about was when a surgeon finally walked through the double doors and headed their way.  As her right hand went up to pull down the mask, the entire room joined in Grandpa’s prayer that his bride of 50 years was still with them.


The power of silence is in how it defies your planning, and when it ends with the right word, life begins again.  We need silence to find space to hear.  We need silence as a companion to our life journey.  We need silence to appreciate the right word.

The Sound of Silence

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

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