On the evening of December 1, I could feel myself coming down with something.
It turned out to be nothing crazy or unusual, just burn out and exhaustion from the semester and work. But then out of nowhere, I started coughing. I didn't have a cold or the flu, but the coughing was persistent. It got to the point where I couldn't sleep lying down, and my voice was slowly taken away.
I'm a talker. I would consider myself - and probably others would agree - to be quite loud. I did radio for a few years and I'm a podcaster. So yes, I would say that I'm a talker and I rely a lot on my voice.
So when I felt my voice slowly going away, I felt really lost. I suddenly couldn't sing in the car. I couldn't respond back in the mass or sing the hymns. I really felt a sense of loss when I wasn't able to sing O Salutaris Hostia ("O Saving Victim") at a recent event where we were able to adore the Blessed Sacrament.
At the time of writing this, I entered week 3 of being "silenced". Though many of the symptoms have subsided, my voice is still not where it usually is. Aside from not being able to do my usual podcasting and singing and actually speaking properly, I felt really upset and a bit distressed. I wanted God to heal my voice as soon as possible and I just wanted to be able to talk again!
But at the most recent Sunday mass - Gaudete Sunday - I found myself pleading with God for healing. I wanted to have my voice back and I wanted it now! In the silence of my own mind, where I couldn't sing the responses or hymns, I could hear God consoling me.
Suddenly, it became very clear that I hadn't given God any time to talk to me lately. The stress of school and work took away from the one thing that is most important, and that is conversation with God and prayer. My focus was on so many other things at once that I had lost sight of Him. And this was problematic because my LIFE DEPENDS ON HIM! I'm nothing without Him. Particularly in this season of Advent, how could I not be in conversation with HIm, when I'm supposed to be preparing my heart and mind for the coming of Jesus?
I needed to be quiet so that I could listen to Him, and it took the physical act of taking a part of my voice away to realize it. In this fast-paced world with so many voices, am I taking the time to stop and listen?
I entered into this year with one desire: to know what my vocation was. Along the way, God opened a lot of doors, showed me a lot of things, but a lot of questions were still unanswered with the understanding that with time and patience, God will bring me the answer. I want to close out the year with a simple reminder and looking at what I thought was a curse as a blessing: taking time to be silent and listen to Him. If I seek understanding and answers, then I actually need to listen! And in order to listen, I need to be quiet!
It can be so daunting to be in silence, but with the coming of the new year, I want to challenge myself (and you, dear reader!) to practice more silence and listening. Can you do it? Let's do it together.
As we close out the Advent season, I wish you all the peace and joy of the Christmas season!