Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Words Into the Night

We don't have to speak for our intentions to be read.

Speech seems like a simple thing, a coordination of muscle and bone, nerves and tongue, something within us,  just as the ability to control and guide both weapon and machine lay slumbering within the wrists and hands.  We can stay silent but the words are still there.

Man experiences things of great magnitude and can not speak of them at all.  An artist or craftsman, creates something that was part of themselves, honed into art or machine. On completion,  they say no words, they call no one, they simply put down their tool, their brush, and stare at their vision, incarnate.
Veterans come home from battle empty of all words, bound together by only that identical experience which they can never forget and dare not speak of, lest by speaking of darkness they are wrapped in its chains.  First responders and LEO's, who have seen so much death that never again, as long as they breathe, will they ever truly go to asleep alone.

Man experiences the mundane, the meaningless, tweeting and texting of it feverishly.  It is as if, by doing so, inconsequential acts become more than the passing of time by the imminently bored. The words sting the screen like so many insects, their incessant noise, dimming to a hum.

We speak in different languages, and even when speaking the same language, we often don't communicate, and when we do, we often don't truly mean what we say. Promises can be nothing more than words and oaths empty air, especially when election times  near, wherein contests of fierce and empty oratory are somehow, retroactively, supposed to make us believe, any more than they can make us forget.
We speak in the language of the past, chants unchanged in generations hanging in the air as God is placed into a golden cup, there underneath the eyes of angels. We speak in the language of silent prayer, calling upon neither God nor Saint, fingering invisible beads, as we put on a respirator and enter hell.

Words can support, they can heal, with gentle utterance after a nightmare in the still of the night, the soothing voice that smooths the frayed edges of a day with nothing more than the touch of supple prose.  Words can injure, cutting like a knife,  discharging like a spark of electricity, those words, from someone we love, marking us always with their wounding. 
Words, a movement of lips and tongue, that can cause laughter or pain, that can divide or conquer. Even in a nation where English is the official language, in parts of our country, there are whole neighborhoods where you won't hear it spoken.

Yet, sometimes one doesn't need to speak at all.

On any given day, tragedy and the earth collide, flood, tornado, the plunging of a mighty machine into a peaceful neighborhood.  The details differ, but the response is always the same. When disaster strikes, the land itself turns mute and those that remain, stand simply as silent instruments unable to make a sound.

A middle aged woman, all alone, standing in front of what remains of her house of 20 years, nothing, left, not even a photo of her failed dreams, left where the water rushed through.  She cries, silently and wet, in the faded robe she fled in, as a neighbor comes over and puts his arms around her.
A young woman, her face growing older by the minute, stumbles from the wreckage that still smolders, a solitary figure, clutching only a doll, making a path towards what is only unknown.

An elderly couple,  looking at the work of their sweat and tears strewn about for miles by the force of nature, the wind thick and warm, like blood spilled, pooling around what little remains. A lone tree stands, its nervous branches bent down as if hoping not to be noticed.

The first responders arrive, standing for just a moment, still and mute, hands unmoving beneath the invisible stain of what is, always, needless blood. For just a moment they stop, as if by whispered breath or the movement of disturbed air, what little remains, would crumble.
They gather, moving in and around, the firefighters, EMS, LEO's, wearing blue and black and yellow. Such garments, solemnly worn, exchanged for lives that used to be ordinary, worn as they shape something from chaos, coercing that terrible blood wind to give up a sound, the forlorn echo of someone who might have survived underneath the carnage.

It's surprising how much noise is there in the silence, of hope, of grief, of disbelief,. It is a sound which one can almost capture, but not quite,  receding like dwindling song, until there is only the dark and the quiet.  And then a small voice. . . "help me", low and faint as the vespers of sleep.

Survivors and saviors, moving without sound, yet sending a message as loudly to the heavens as if they were one voice. People are helped from the rubble, the injured accessed, the dying comforted as best as one can, if only by a touch that resonates straight to the heart, bypassing a brain that can not accept its fate. There are no teleprompters, there are no cue cards, there are no words for boundless grief and regret. There is no language for this, no word, no sound, it's defiant and imminent life, holding on.

That simple act, speaks volumes.


  1. Brigid, Here I sit on the side of the bed waiting for the pain meds to kick in so that I might rest my head again this night. Haven't been able to follow you for a while as my body decided it needed a 4 way bi-pass a few weeks ago. Despite getting in shape & bringing the blood pressure down I found I had a silent partner I wasn't even aware of. I had great partners at the Hampton VA emergency room who got me stable and then transferred me to a great heart center.

    Your words tonight hit so close to home as I think of Clifford the orderly who I saw today waiting for the elevator on a follow up visit to my surgeon. He had come to get me the morning of my surgery to take me to pre-op. I walked into the hall from my hospital room to get on the gurney, and there was Clifford... I reached out my hand and introduced myself as I climbed aboard. He smiled as he shook my hand and then pulled his ID aside so that I could see his name. He was unable to speak. That introduction seemed to allow a world of trust to develop within seconds for he did something I have since been told he usually doesn't do with strangers. He pulled out his electronic voice box and started chatting and laughing up a storm as we made our way thru hallways and down elevators. Not always understanding all he was saying... I was so comforted and relaxed going towards a very scary surgery he was the greatest gift I could have received. So when I saw him coming off the elevator today with another member of the heart surgery team I stopped and hugged him. As we parted and he started to walk away with his co-worker he stopped and turned, walking back to give me another hug. Its then that I realized we had made a human connection that touched both our hearts during that morning ride to surgery.

    Thanks for your healing WORDS... the meds have kicked in and I am ready to rest. LOVE from one of your long time readers who now truly has a more positive perspective on Life and those we encounter in the journey.

  2. I have had to pick up the dead, some of whom I had known. That was horrible. I could not do that on a regular basis, so all I can say is God bless you and all those who do that job.



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