No Words

I stood in the line of family and friends, making small-talk and inching slowly forward. When my moment came, I hugged her.

“I am so sorry,” I said. “I have no words to express what I’m feeling right now.”

She nods, smiles fleetingly, and swallows hard. The line presses in behind me and I move on.

Despite the hollow feeling that the “no words” line was hardly sufficient to mark the end of a life, I walked away feeling that the world is perhaps grateful for my occasional silence. Sometimes, finding no words is a blessing.

Just last night I was in a meeting designed to allow people to share their thoughts and feeling. I appreciated so much those words that were shared. I needed the encouragement and the hope. But I also appreciated those in that circle who simply said, “Thanks, but I just need to listen tonight.”

Photo Credit: Creative Commons/mikebaird

Photo Credit: Creative Commons/mikebaird

Today, as I think about friends whose lives are anything but peaceful, I wonder if they might be blessed only with presence. And, if so, what ends I might employ to simply be there.

Words can be soothing. Words can be instructive. Words can be life-saving. But being there drowns out all words.

5 thoughts on “No Words

    • Keith, Nancy and I were praying for and thinking about Angi and you last night. We have no words. We wish we could be there. Know that we have prayed that you feel a mighty presence of the Spirit. Angi is a great woman of God. You are a great man of God. May His Spirit fill all the empty gaps in and around you. We ache to be close by. Love you and all your family.

  1. Great post. I have sat with friends in the suffering to simply be present and I have had friends do the same with me. There are times when words cannot be absorbed. There are times when words spoken by someone who cannot fathom the emotional state of the other makes no sense and may even hurt. Sometimes silence and presence is the greatest gift.

    I know very little about the Jewish custom of Shiva but heard it described once as simply being present during a period of mourning or trial. My understanding may be wrong but my mental image is one of peace and calm in the midst of a storm.

  2. Pingback: Silence in Circles Part II: Peace Circles | Restorativity

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