Even writing these words, “A sense of deliberateness and calm,” brings me a sense of deliberateness and calm.
To me, this is the height of calm.
The times I have spent at the Carmelite monastery here in North Dakota have been some of the most divine of my life. And it’s not that the other times have left so little to be desired, but they largely take place within the chaotic cacophony of life.
I like that life is full of vibrant color, varied people and robust challenges. But calm is important too, and sorely lacking in our current world.
Earlier this week, we celebrated the 48th World Communications Day, and as part of that, Pope Francis issued some guiding words to help us make the best use of the technology we have before us in order to most effectively communicate. His message can be found in its entirety here and I’d highly recommend a look.
For now, I’m going to pull a few of the phrases that spoke to me, because I think they are for anyone to receive and process, whether you are Catholic or otherwise, and a professional communicator or otherwise. We humans all have a great need to communicate, and the better we do this, the more fluidly we can move through life.
The pope says communication is more a human than a technological achievement. Already, another image than what I’d been attaching to “communications” comes into my mind.
“What is it, then, that helps us, in the digital environment, to grow in humanity and mutual understanding?” he asks. “We need…to recover a certain sense of deliberateness and calm. This calls for time and the ability to be silent and to listen.”
That’s not something usual these days, is it? We must plan for it, work toward it, and move into it. And if we’re so fortunate as to reach that place, we must let go of distractions and allow it to change us from within.
For some, this is very scary. For all, this is necessary.
“How can communication be at the service of an authentic culture of encounter?…How do we draw close to one another?” Pope Francis asks. “Communication is really about realizing that we are all human beings, children of God. I like seeing this power of communication as ‘neighborliness.’”
The pope said that communication aimed at promoting consumption or manipulating others is a form of violent aggression like that which was suffered by the man in Scripture who was beaten by robbers and left for dead. “Nowadays there is a danger that certain media so condition our responses that we fail to see our real neighbor.”
I know how easy it is to be tempted toward aggression in communications efforts, and yet as a communicator, I feel strongly that we must engage, including on popularly contested topics. But I feel that God has given me courage in this realm and a heart to go after those difficult topics anyway.
And so I will step into terrain that might feel foreign, that might involve risk, but I can do this because of God’s grace, because of the community that supports me, and because I have first dwelt in a place that has brought me a sense of deliberateness and calm.
Whether it be at the monastery or at the feet of Jesus in Adoration or sitting on a bench in the park watching my children play, purposefully seeking out these places of refuge serve to calm my heart. And when my heart is calm, I can lovingly enter the places of engagement that God is calling me toward.
If we only deal with safe topics, only talk to people with whom we agree, and never take risks in the realm of communications, I don’t know that we’re really serving God in the way He asks. Not everyone is called purposefully to be the kind of communicator I believe God has called me to be but we are all called to communicate as lovingly and thoughtfully as possible.
Sometimes the most powerful kind of communication is simply done through our right and loving actions.
But for me, words are often required. Fortified by the love I have known, and the calm I have cultivated, I can move in, offering up that same love, and die to self as God’s human vessel by seeking, challenging, receiving and being a vibrant part of the human conversation. I
Hopefully, my communicating will be part of what brings me ultimately into God’s arms, and maybe even attracts others to seek the same.
Q4U: In what ways are you being challenged to communicate, and challenged by communications, when it comes to your life as a Christian?