Words Are Birthed, But Silence Is the Womb.
The hardest time 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.
And he didn’t say a word.
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, making 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.
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.
Written words in books transport us to new worlds, give us a mirror by which we see ourselves in new ways, and allow us to share in the common human experience.
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 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.
Yes, we can express many life experiences. But words are often inadequate, and fail to convey the deepest meanings and emotions of the human heart.
So, when dad can’t find the words, I touch that depth of silence. This is a good space. 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?
Marielena Zuniga is growing older each day and admits it. Her 40-year career as a retired journalist and creative writer has been a tapestry of words, allowing her to explore the stories behind the story and interview exceptional souls on the planet, from the homeless to celebrities. In that process, she has been proud to write about women’s issues as well as matters of faith and spirituality. Her writing has earned prestigious journalism awards and her inspirational writing has placed in the top 100 of the annual Writers Digest Magazine contest. She writes a hope-filled blog Stories for the Journey: Reflections on Life and the Spirit and she is in the process of writing her second novel, not without angst. Marielena resides in Bucks County, PA, home to Pearl Buck and James Michener, and she prays their creative energies visit her often.