Friday, September 26, 2014

A sign…or many, actually

I gave a speech today on values. It was about 22 minutes long and it came with a reflection song at the end and a list of four discussion questions that I heard sparked much animated talk (speakers are sent off to pray and reflect themselves after their talks so we don't get to participate in the group discussion). It was much like the talk I gave at the last retreat, only that one was on forgiveness. Two very different stories.

Today, though, something happened that I didn't even recognize the blessedness of until tonight. It's easy to see how I missed it. Being on team, we are sometimes quite literally running from one activity to the next, getting things set up for our guests. It's much like the Disney principle: guests do not see the behind-the-scenes activities as it would detract from the magic. It makes for an incredible experience for our retreatants, but long, hard days for team. For instance, I have learned that I have an aversion to wearing the same clothes from 5:30 a.m. until midnight. Every night, after the retreatants are sent to bed, we gather as a team to review the day, check in with each other, and make sure we are prepared for the next day's events. The past two nights I found myself removing all jewelry, my work apron, and my team shirt (t-shirt underneath stayed put) over the course of the meeting. I was desperate to get out of those clothes. Nothing feels as good as removing shoes and peeling off the socks, though. Heaven.

Anyway, because we are running so much during the day it's easy to miss blessings that are literally right in front of your face. Or, in my case, about 45 degrees off to my left, and two and a half feet away.

Today, my talk, my words, were translated into American Sign Language as I spoke. We have two hearing impaired guests and interpreters were arranged for the main events. I knew this in advance of course, being on team, but I guess it never really registered in my head until I walked to the podium and saw a person I did not know standing there, smiling at me. I was the first speaker, so this was the first time anything was signed.

I found she was a tremendous comfort to me up there. I was not alone. There were two of us telling my story. And because I was acutely aware of her need to have time to interpret my words into sign language, I slowed way down. This is normally difficult if not impossible for me. After my talk, someone told me my speed and inflections were perfect. This is huge: I have never, ever been complimented on my delivery, and after every single speech I've ever given I've been told, "It was good, but you should have gone slower." I've been accused of leaving my audience behind. Which is typically fine with me since I don't want to be up there in front of people anyway. Fight or flight? Yeah. I flee. My words come out at machine gun speed and woe to those left behind.

So tonight, after everything was done and we ourselves were sent off to bed, as I finally slipped off my shoes and peeled off my socks, I realized how incredible it is that my words were translated into sign language. My words. What I had to say was so important that it was said twice, simultaneously, in two languages.


Tomorrow is normally my favorite day of the retreat. I'm so looking forward to it. After what happened this morning, though, man…I don't know. I doubt I will ever have the opportunity to speak with a sign language interpreter next to me again, so I will take it as the blessing it is and consider it checked off the bucket list. Hell, I didn't even know it was on the bucket list. This is one of those times I'll add it, though, after it's complete, just to have the pleasure of checking it off. (Don't judge…I know a bunch of ya'all do that, too.)


Blogger Writing Girl said...

I Think your story is very inter esting.
Writing Girl

4:54 PM  

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