Posted by: Chris Sandel | May 1, 2008

A Silent Conversation

I had an interesting experience yesterday.  One of my responsibilities at church is to visit the hospitals once every couple of weeks to check up on people.  As I went through my list of people to visit yesterday afternoon I got to the room of a guy named Roger.  As is the case most of the time, when I got there I didn’t know much about him beyond a name on a card.  I knocked on his door but he seemed to be sleeping.  On my way in I passed a nurse and when she saw me looking in she asked who I was.  I told her I was from church but it I didn’t want to disturb him.  She told me he was just awake and would be fine to go talk to him but that he is deaf. 

I went in, touched his arm and sat down next to him.  It is interesting trying to hold a conversation with someone without using any sounds at all.  Everything I would have normally done no longer made sense and the silence seemed extreme all of the sudden.  I pointed to the West Side logo on my church (it is a good think I wore that shirt) and he understood.  From that point on we had to write everything down on a sheet of paper beside his bed.  That sounds like a really awkward way to have a conversation but I quickly got over it and I kind of enjoyed it.  He’d write a few works and then I would either make some motions or I’d write something back.  It was kind of fun trying to guess what he was going to write next and figure out what he was trying to say.  If you’ve ever been to a country where you don’t speak the language you kind of understand what I mean.  This was a little more than that even though because we couldn’t use any sounds at all. 

In the end I was able to find out a fair amount out about him through our conversation/word puzzle.  The doctors are working on his back while he is in the hospital.  He hasn’t been able to come to church lately because he recently moved and sold his home and his car.  He even gave me his knew address so we could update our mailing address for him.  At the end of our time together I asked if I could pray for him.  It is a little strange praying for someone who is deaf because obviously they can’t hear you but in they really aren’t who we’re talking to so I went ahead and prayed just like I normally would.

There were a lot of things about this afternoon that could have been uncomfortable.  Hospital visits in general can be strange because you never know what you’re in for.  Not being able to communicate in any of the normal ways really take you out of your normal element.  On top of all of that, I am so used to surrounding myself with music, audiobooks, podcasts and other stimuli that just being silent, even if we were having a silent conversation, was pretty strange for me.  But in the midst of all of that, I met a really cool man.  I was two seconds from moving on to “let him get his rest” (a.k.a. keep me from anything that might be uncomfortable) when the a few words from a nurse spurred me on.  And I’m so glad they did.  It sounds simple but that one, rather awkward interaction was probably the highlight of my afternoon.

Something about us yearn’s for the comfortable.  For some reason we tend to be drawn to what we know, what we can control and what we feel is safe.  But how often do you experience something really cool from doing what is comfortable?  How often are you stretched by doing what you know you can control? 

God, help me remember that the best ways to grow, the best ways to experience cool things, the best ways to see you in new ways, are often outside of my comfort zone.  Help be to embrace the uncomfortable a little bit each day, even if that takes a few words from a nurse to get me there.

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