It does not escape my notice that during this Lenten season, a time for less of life's little luxuries as well as a time for prayer and penance, I am dealing with an ongoing case of laryngitis leftover from the Flu That Humbled Me (and gave me the nastiest cough) last month.

It's difficult to do more than talk in a pleasant and soft tone of voice (that mommy-voice, full of sing-song and never, never, ever strident) when you fear that anything spoken above the noise of the crowd will cause your throat to seize up and shut down.

I'm left with two choices: speak slowly and gently, or say nothing at all.

Neither one really fits my personality.

And yet, I can see why certain religious orders take vows of silence. Even after you turn away from the chatter of the world, there is still the distraction of conversation within the walls. Conversation that easily becomes more than words with nuances, facial expressions, and all the words not said.

And there is still, whether you're inside the walls of a cloister or out here in the world, the distraction of talking to just to hear yourself speak whatever is on your mind.

Why do we run from silence? We seek me-time, down-time, quiet-time only to find ways to fill it right back up with distractions that keep our minds racing and reeling rather than resting.

I have no answers; I race and reel with the best of them.

Which is why I'm beginning to see my nagging laryngitis as a small gift to help teach me that quiet can be good.

And in the quiet, I'm refocusing on what really matters.

Now if I could just keep myself off of Twitter...

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