I recently attended a gathering where a man with a “stoma” due to his voice box being removed was also present. While the other guests laughed and mingled, I saw him watching the group with a form of sad intelligence. I imagined him having a response to every joke or opinion shared, but knowing that it would take him perhaps a full minute to utter a complete sentence, and that he also risked getting the device clogged up and choking, he remained silent. Invisible. Present but self consciously feeling he was not really fully there because he almost literally “had no voice.”
I later asked for his contact information from the host of the party and sent him a text thanking him for being there in the “observational gallery” with me and that I appreciated his presence so much, as well as the kindness and humor he displayed with others. I wanted him to know that although I could not “hear” him, he was indeed seen.
The host later shared that the multicolored shawl I had donned when the night turned chilly was actually a shawl the aforementioned guest had woven on his looms, and that his work is represented and sold in high end galleries in the area.
An artist gathering different colored pieces of yarn and weaving them together into a design his mind imagined—creating something beautiful and useful with his time and how he chose to express it.
We do that with the words we speak—each sentence becomes a strand of color that can form a blanket to comfort, or somehow link to a thread, a threat of violence in someone standing nearby.
Today my voice can barely escape my throat because words spoken in hate with an intent to incite violence had them carried out in my beloved home town of El Paso, Texas.
A mass shooter with a manifesto against immigrants murdered 22 people and injured 24 more —among them children, grandmothers, war veterans, visiting foreign nationals, parents.
Their voices can no longer be heard.
We must speak for them now. We must use the power of our voices, raised, to call forth the best of all of us…drowning out the work of those whose voices, and fingers, only know how to pull triggers.
In the beginning was the Word…..
And the Word was with God and was God, And the Word spoke and said “Light be.” And Light was.
Amen and Amen