There are so many kinds of silence. The silence that envelops like a warm quilt, tucked up tight. The silence that chafes and itches, pacing along the walls of anxiety’s prison. The silence that expects and hopes and yearns. The silence that holds its breath and stands stock still, waiting for… for what? The silence that wants to sing but is hushed by awe. The silence that is forced and pummels its silencer with fists.

Last night, the helplessness was thick. A little boy with curly hair and three lively years’ history, a boy who had been sick for a year but still was ornery as all get-out, lay limp on the table. Dad’s fiercely protective eyes never left his son. Mom’s tears reached weary and pleading arms toward her precious one. Grandma wanted to rush in and push the doctors away. Surely dad’s shelter, mom’s tender touch, grandma’s kisses should be enough. But there was nothing for them to do but wait. Pace. Cry. Plead. Pray. Stand. Watch. Love like their lives, like their little boy’s life depended on it.

So many kinds of silence.

I stood in silence for most of the two hours I was there. I entered into the edge of their powerlessness, reaching out my heart, searching for theirs in the dark. I did not find them, their dark was so great. But something connected us for some moments. Prayer, sideways glances, Kleenexes. I felt powerless, useless, so I sheepishly asked if they wanted me to go away. They almost begged me to stay. So I stood and watched and continued to reach. I stood and continued to watch the fierce tenderness of yearning love that is so strong it seems that it must have the power to heal all. The boy continued to lay limp on the table, stabilized for now, but a long and uncertain journey ahead.

“Before a word is on my tongue, Lord, you have known its meaning through and through. You are with me beyond my understanding. God of my present, my past and future, too.”

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