A Conversation Without Words
By: Tom Norvell

Vol. 12 No. 24 | June 15, 2009

We attended the wedding of a very sweet couple over the weekend. At one point in the ceremony the minister turned to the bride and groom to ask them a series of question about their promises to one another. Though I may not remember the exact wording, he turned to the bride and asked, "Will you promise that you'll be okay when we get older and we sit together and have a conversation without words?" What a line? (I later learned that the bride and groom had written these questions themselves.)

My wife and I have these wordless conversations often when we're in the car. It's quiet. Music is playing. Then, she'll say something and I'll say, "That's exactly what I was thinking." Or, I'll break the silence and she'll say, "I was thinking the same thing." Those conversations happen as you get older. But it takes more than just growing older. They happen when you grow closer and have spent years together.

I've had those conversations from long distance as I watch a ballgame and I know my son is watching the same game in another city in another time zone. I'll know what he's thinking and he'll know what I'm thinking even though no words are ever spoken. Sometimes we share our thoughts. Sometimes we just know.

My daughter and I have had conversations without words when we've sat in a restaurant, or ridden bikes, or walked, or watched a late night television show. Of course, it's not always silent. There is plenty of conversation, but it's really okay if there are no words.

My friends and I have conversations without words all the time. They occur when we're sitting across the table during a meal. No words spoken. But we know. We just know. We can hear the conversation in our minds. We feel it in our hearts. We see it in each other's face. I know their thoughts and they know mine.

A conversation without words may occur in the counseling office when the person tries to express their deepest feelings, but there are no words. Tears. Frustration. Anger. Heartbreak. Disappointment. Pain. Fear. Silence. No words. It is a conversation with no words.

A conversation without words may occur at the end of a sermon when someone walks down the aisle with tears streaming down their face. As friends gather around them, and the friends weep with them. They cannot verbalize their feelings, but the message is clear.

A conversation without words may take place between co-workers in the middle of a meeting. No one in the room knows we are having our own conversation, but we are. A look. A smile.

Many of my conversations with God have no words. I've written about those. The words just don't come. I sit. I listen. He talks. I listen. It's quiet. I listen. I ponder and reflect. He gently speaks. I go away feeling refreshed and comforted. But there were no words. Except those provided by the Spirit.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. (Romans 8:26-27, NIV)
These conversations are real. No words are spoken. No words are needed.

To this young couple that began their journey together this weekend, let me say thank you for your wisdom and I will pray that you enjoy the conversations without words when they happen. Enjoy them knowing that you are not only growing older, but you are growing closer together because God's Spirit is living in You.


Copyright 2009 Tom Norvell. All rights reserved.