Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Silent Scream

"What you are saying speaks so loudly that I cannot hear a word you are saying," my mentor told me many years ago. I took it to mean that my body language, tone and volume of voice, cadence, facial expressions, eye movement, and countenance delivered the message. No words necessary.

I visited a very troubled patient the other day. (Actually it was weeks ago, so troubling that I needed some time to reflect on it.) Her contorted face and deep-set, shifty eyes let me know there was more at stake in her overall health than her physical condition. I'm sure her altered mental condition (mental illness, psychosis or dementia, I do not know) influenced her message delivery. What she was saying spoke so loudly that I didn't need her to speak. She didn't say a word, but her message was loud and clear.

Very, very, very loud. I couldn't think. I found myself checking the time on my watch. I looked into her eyes. I touched her shoulder. I asked her if she would like a prayer? I closed my eyes and prayed out loud with her. When I opened my eyes she was still watching something floating around the airspace, seemingly gagging on something.

In my clinical charting, I used little tick marks to indicate my assessment: distraught, in pain, suspicious, angry. My pastoral care left me feeling very impotent. I charted: presence, no change. *sigh*

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. Romans 8:26

What message are you loudly speaking, in this moment?

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