By Barb Arland-Fye
We were ordering off the menu at a local restaurant on the first evening of the new year when our server looked at me, attentively, waiting. But I couldn’t speak because of laryngitis. My husband Steve explained what was wrong and placed the order. After dinner, heading back to our son Colin’s apartment, our family said the rosary … with me praying silently. Without my voice in the mix, “the boys” (Steve, Colin and our other son, Patrick) lost their rhythm. It made me smile, maybe a little too smugly. What is prayer without Mom? As if to answer that question, Colin prayed a special intention that I would get my voice back.
The voice faded in and out over the next couple of days. By Saturday, I felt miserable from a head cold and couldn’t speak a word. I didn’t attend Mass with my family that night. Colin prayed again for the return of my voice. I drank plenty of hot tea with chamomile and gargled with Listerine (as instructed by my mother). Still, no voice when I returned to work on Monday. Without a voice, I depended even more on my staff to convey messages for me, to respond to phone calls I couldn’t take and to interpret my handwriting as we held our newspaper planning meeting. The faster I wrote the quicker Anne Marie and Lindsay attempted to figure out my thoughts to avoid having to interpret my poor handwriting.
Walking through the halls of diocesan headquarters on errands or to refill my water bottle, I waved rather than spoke greetings to my colleagues. The treasure of having a voice echoed in my mind then and as Sister Laura and I prayed Liturgy of the Hours, Evening Prayer, in the chapel. Sister prayed aloud while I listened.
In my daily prayers I thanked God for all of my blessings and asked for the restoration of one more: my voice. Gradually, I felt the voice returning and toward the end of the work week I could speak out loud again. What a blessing and a privilege!
When my family and I attended Mass last Saturday night I joined them in praying aloud, but my attempts at singing failed. Singing is the last thing to come back as you heal from laryngitis, my friend Cheryl, a musician, told me. I can live with that. This past week I came across articles about former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head five years ago on Jan. 8, 2011. By the grace of God she survived a traumatic brain injury but is still learning how to walk and to talk again. Her courage and perseverance gave me a lot to ponder as I considered my frustration with laryngitis.
Then, reflecting on the Scripture readings for this Sunday (Jan. 17), I had to smile at the first reading and the responsorial psalm. Isaiah 62:1-5 begins: “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch.” The first verse of the responsorial song begins: “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all you lands. Sing to the Lord; bless his name.” I’ll do that, just as soon as I can!
(Barb Arland-Fye, Editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)