Zechariah Advent

Dec 24, 2010

Today is the last day of my Zechariah Advent. When the angel of the Lord announces Elizabeth’s pregnancy to Zechariah, old Zechariah questions the ludicrous possibility. His disbelief earns him nine months of muteness (Luke 1:11-22). My voice, unlike Zechariah’s, did not vanish completely. Just the volume of my speaking voice and my singing voice disappeared.

The Ear, Nose and Throat doc found no scary symptoms from a pathological perspective.  There are no nodes, growths or tumors. But while the doctor asked me to sing and say “E’s” with a 3/8″ diameter stainless steel probe spelunking in my throat, he commented about the behavior of my vocal chords. “Your vocal chords are supposed to touch lightly when you speak and sing. Yours smash and gnash against each other.” It makes sense to me. I tend to exert more energy then necessary or helpful most of the time. I clench my fists and grind my teeth. I had a ballet teacher who called me Godzilla: “You attack every step. Lighten up. Dynamics, dear, dynamics.” My middle school tennis coach accused me of trying to kill every ball.

After decades of vocal abuse, my Godzilla, killer approach to speaking has taken its toll. I now have an appointment for some vocal therapy officially called “Vocal Hygiene.” The title makes me feel dirty, like I’ve forgotten to floss or gargle with enough Listerine®.

Unlike Zechariah (unless a miracle occurs), I won’t have my entire voice back by tomorrow’s Nativity. I’ll miss singing carols at tonight’s Christmas Eve service.  But that’s okay. When my tired voice was really shot about three weeks ago I was more careful about when and how I spoke. As the strength of my voice returns I have some unpleasant observations. I’m quicker to speak and I am louder. I’m snappier with my family and friends. Vocal abuse and verbal abuse seem to go hand in hand. I hope the therapy will teach me to lighten up and speak with gentleness. I hope it will make me more attentive to both my speaking and my speech.

P.S. Thanks for your prayers.