I spent a lot of years reacting violently to any form of shushing. From the time I could talk (which was, apparently not until the age of three), I’ve had people far outside the realm of the library ask me to quiet down.
So, when I started reading about the art of wordlessness, I rebelled again. I didn’t even like the Bible verse “Be still and know that I am God.”
But this rebellious perspective changed not too long ago. . .
My husband had some questionable blood work after a physical, and the doctor asked that he have a bone marrow test. My dad had gone through this experience years before, and I knew it wasn’t going to be pleasant. But I encouraged my husband to stay strong and just do it. Yes, I actually spouted Nike slogans at him.
The day of the test, we went into the hospital, got signed in, and waited in a series of empty chairs. I had been told by my mother that spouses weren’t allowed in, so I patted my husband and told him to “hang in there” and that I wished I could go with him. A few minutes later, an orderly came into the waiting room and called out, “Neil?” I looked at my husband with sincere love and support, and gave him a quick kiss. Neil stood up to go back for his test.
“Ma’am?” I heard the orderly say. “You can come back with your husband if you’d like.”
Crap. My heart started to pound. The reaction reminded me of Woody Allen’s joke about death – it wasn’t that I was afraid of a bone marrow test, I just didn’t want to be there when it happened.
We went into a small room, where one man and his wife sat behind a curtain. As soon as we sat down the man’s IV apparently went south and he started bleeding all over the floor. I would have prefered a cartoon before the main event.
But, as the doctor started the procedure, something amazing happened. . .
As the ridiculously large needle was slowly inserted, I got as close as I could to Neil’s face. I saw his pupils dilate and the vein on his forehead begin to bulge. “Look at me,” I said. “I’m with you. Let’s think about the beach. We’re at the beach, sitting in our chairs, staring at the ocean, and it’s a beautiful day.”
He smiled, and we became quiet, maintaining eye contact. This is when we entered what is called “wordlessness,” a state that is bigger and deeper than words. As we gazed at one another, time stopped. We both said we felt as if we stopped seeing each other as human beings, and saw each other as one entity. A researcher found that when two people focus on one another while thinking loving thoughts, their hearts create more coherent rhythms and become highly entrained.
I think our two hearts became one. And it was in the silence of the moment. Oddly, what should have been an uncomfortable moment at best became a deeply moving experience.
So, if you’re feeling a little lost . . .
Don’t grab a stranger and stare at them, it could freak them out. But stop talking. Get quiet. Sit in a room by yourself, or stare at your hand, or close your eyes. Give yourself at least 60 seconds of deep breathing and silence. For it’s in those moments that you find magic.
You discover that you are part of something much bigger than yourself, and it’s a wonderful, peaceful, deeply joyful place to be.