(If you missed the first blog post in this series, you can catch up by clicking here.)
End of the Day Yesterday
I had one more conversation with our Children. We talked about Zechariah again and about what the next week might be like. Our middle child was concerned that if I couldn’t talk I wouldn’t be able to send her to the corner for bad behavior….I quickly reassured her that was not the case.
They seemed to understand as much as they could with an almost, “Well that’s just Dad being Dad” kind of quality to their reactions.
“I may have made a mistake” are the first thoughts I had this morning. Like most of the Spiritual Habits, the idea of them seems so easy, almost glamorous. I typically start Spiritual journeys with unrealistic thoughts like, “I’m going to read 12 chapters in my bible everyday….heck I might make my own handwritten copy of those twelve chapters, which is sure to help with my memorization of said chapters!” Or I tell myself, “I’m going to rise at 5AM, brew some General Foods International Coffee (remember that? in the little coffee tin?) sit in front of the picture window, and pray for an hour every morning. Then I actually start that journey and find it looks nothing like the picture in my mind.
So when it came to being silent for a week, I thought, “What a great way to climb inside the story of Zechariah as well as explore a Spiritual Discipline that is rarely practiced in this culture.
Then I woke up this morning, and any glamour was replaced with the reality that silence is hard.
The kids did great for the most part. There was, however, one moment where I had to break up a dispute between the girls. So there I was snapping and clapping and clicking, all while dancing around, pointing my finger and mouthing words they could not understand. They stared at me….fascinated….the same stare they get when they stand at the glass wall of the monkey habitat at the Zoo. They don’t know what is going on in there, but all the jumping up and down and running all over is mesmerizing.
Before I went silent, I made up some short videos of some of my most common phrases that I use on the children: “Stop please!” “Come upstairs it’s time for dinner!” “Time to brush your teeth!” “Don’t put anything in your nose but your elbow!” I haven’t decided if this is cheating or not so I’m not sure if I will use them.
Heading in to the Office
Something that is cheating is an app I found for my phone, that allows you to text, and then turns that text into an audible voice. You can even change the voice to a guy with an English accent. I think the assistants enjoyed it….it was like listening to Hugh Grant talk all day. I probably won’t use that on a regular basis. The rest of the time I communicated through emails, texts, and head nods.
Today was our staff Christmas lunch, and as you can imagine, I made for horrible company. But those at my table were gracious and had some fun with my situation. I accidentally spoke on several occasions, usually when someone would ask me a question and I would simply react. It’s like when the power goes out at your house, but you still turn on the light switch every time you walk in to a room. I did have some small cards made up that explain what I’m doing that I can hand out to people I run in to in public (like our waitress, who after reading the card, referred to me as “the mute guy”).
One Thing I learned Today
There seems to be built-in to the subconscious of many people, a general fear of silence. The most common phrases I’ve heard today from people who found out what I was doing were, “I could NEVER do that!” “I would just die if I couldn’t talk!” “That would be miserable!”
I wonder what it is, specifically, that we fear about being silent? Why is silence to be avoided? I’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions.
But if you want to have something to fear….how about knowing that tonight your Wife is going out (always well deserved) and you will need to silently feed, bathe, and put to bed your three children! :)
But, Penny, if you’re reading this….I look forward to listening to you talk all about your day when you get home….and not just because that’s all I can do!