Last week I started getting sick. Over the course of an evening, my throat grew sore, and it kept getting worse. The pain was strong enough that it woke me several times during the night. There were no other symptoms, just the sore throat. But it was excruciating. The next morning I had a sinus headache and still that persistent sore throat.
Because the museum where I work was only a week away from our second biggest fundraiser of the year, I took the day off. I told my boss I was perfectly capable of working, but I didn’t think he would want me infecting almost our entire staff by coming in to work. I did work Saturday (when I work alone), and by then I was certain what I had was a nasty cold.
My colds always go a certain way. They start with a sore throat (though not usually this bad), then progress into the sinus congestion, sniffling, sneezing, and coughing. The last symptom to go will be the cough. Ever since a nasty case of bronchitis years ago, my coughs seem to linger.
And one thing I can always count on with a cold–I lose my voice.
Being physically unable to speak loudly (or, today, at all) makes you have to think a lot more about your communications with others. There are a lot of things that can be done via text message or email, but it feels awkward to write a note for someone to, for instance, pass you the salt.
Of course, living alone makes that unnecessary, but it also forces you to decide if you’re going to answer the phone and struggle through a phone conversation, because you don’t have anyone else around to answer it for you.
Being without a voice has also made me realize how much I talk, even when I’m alone at home. When I’m writing, I speak my dialogue aloud–it makes it more authentic. I talk to myself, I talk to my cats, I sing along with my music. When I pray, I usually pray aloud. It feels more conversational, I guess.
For me, being voiceless is a temporary thing. Next week this cold will mostly be over, I’ll have my speaking voice back, and a couple of days later I’ll have my singing voice back.
But it has me thinking about people who are always voiceless.
Jesus spoke for people who had no voice. More than that, he helped them find their voice and listened to them. He didn’t always rely on speech to make his point, either. Remember the woman caught in adultery? They dragged her in front of Jesus and said she must be stoned. What did Jesus do? He knelt and wrote in the dirt!
I believe we Christians are called to speak up for those who have no voice. Whether those voices have been taken from them by oppressive governments, by the oppression of poverty, by sickness…by whatever power. We should look at the people around us and ask what stories they have to tell.
Then help them tell it.