A Silent Light
Listen more and talk less.
Four days this week I did not have a voice - laryngitis struck.
This experience made me intentionally think about how much I listen and how much I talk.
I have to say it was interesting to watch how I myself responded and how others responded to me not having a voice. I had to write out on paper or type on my phone what I was trying to tell someone and they had to respond by patiently waiting. You could feel the tension between the patience and frustration.
Throughout the four days I experienced...
having my son take the vocal lead in our conversations,
running errands like going to the grocery store and writing notes to the cashier,
wanting to make a phone call – oh wait
and the struggle for me that was most difficult was walking by people and not being able to say hello – I kind of would head nod and tap my neck with the palm of my hand to be like hey I got laryngitis (I even put an image on my iPhone that said – I can’t talk, I have laryngitis.)
I tried many home remedies to get my voice back (who knew that whispering is one of the worse things you can do when you have laryngitis – don’t whisper, it’s rude, haha!).
My experience being a silent light this week reminded me of the following quote:
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature---trees, flowers, grass---grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Teresa
The quote resonated with me on Monday, after teaching my two classes with no voice. I received a few ideas from colleagues about how I might teach my classes while having laryngitis. One suggested asking a couple students to facilitate the class. On Sunday night, I began drafting a script for two students to facilitate class for the day. I probably spent an exhaustive amount of time wondering how class would go that night and early Monday morning.
I walked into class on Monday and wrote on the wipe board, “I have laryngitis.” The interesting thing I observed was the students seemed more attentive than most classes. I would be interested to know if it was because the circumstance was so different from any other class or if it was concern that their teacher wasn’t feeling well. I found a couple of students who were interested in facilitating the class and be my voice. It was amazing to see the empowerment of my classroom come to life on Monday. I released my power and gave it to the students, I watched my students be more confident than ever sharing thoughts related to the future challenges for sport facility and venue management. I got to be an active listener in the middle of my students receiving authority to perform duties of the classroom and engage in intellectual dialogue. It was awesome!
In my second class, I experienced the same thing. I had two students state they would help facilitate class, another student over heard the two and jumped in saying, “I want to help too!” I wrote on a piece of paper, “Sure, why not!” We proceeded with the class dialogue about future trends.
At the end of each class, I had students ask, “Do you really have laryngitis?” Both classes questioned and actually thought that I was faking it because of the different antics I bring into the classroom. I wrote on the board, “No, I am not faking, I really have laryngitis. But thanks for the idea for future semesters, haha!”
Going back to Mother Teresa’s quote, sometimes we need silence to be able to touch souls.
This really made me question, were there other opportunities for my students to express themselves during the semester that I missed.
If we step back and choose to be a silent light everyone once and awhile we would provide opportunities that give our students (children, friends, family, colleagues, others) the space to be heard…
What will we learn,
What will we gain,
What souls will we touch by taking time to be silent.