On the surface it may seem a little odd that Pope Benedict XVI has chosen silence as the theme of the next World Communications Day, but to me it makes perfect sense. Having recently returned from a silent retreat, I cannot recommend the practice highly enough.
Silence, of course, does not simply mean refraining from talking. Real silence has to include a shut down of all those social communication gadgets that make a deafening noise of their own. If we're always spinning our wheels, it can become more and more difficult to communicate effectively. Or to do anything effectively, for that matter.
So as a writer and "communicator," I'd like to say, "thank you," to the pope for reminding us that we can't always just be talking and typing and blogging and tweeting. We have to take time to turn everything off, step away from our normal routine, and listen for that still, small voice.
Here's a little more on the pope's announcement from a CNS story:
Announcing that the pope had chosen "Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization" as the theme for World Communications Day 2012, the Vatican acknowledged it initially might appear strange to ask professional wordsmiths to focus on silence, but it said silence is essential for really processing the words people hear or read.
The Catholic celebration of World Communications Day is marked in most dioceses on the Sunday before Pentecost, which in 2012 will be May 20. A papal message for the occasion usually is released on the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers, Jan. 24.
The Pontifical Council for Social Communications, which coordinates the observance, said that in the pope's thinking, "silence is not presented simply as an antidote to the constant and unstoppable flow of information that characterizes society today, but rather as a factor that is necessary for its integration."
Silence, the council said, favors discernment and reflection.
Particularly when talking about the word of God, silence is an indispensable part of welcoming the message the word is communicating, it said.
I have written about the importance of short but intense periods of silence in my own life HERE and HERE. I find as I get older I crave those silent times more and more. I'm lucky because I get some daily doses of silence (at least when school is in session) due to the fact that I work at home all alone. But, even there, I have to be careful not to fill the empty space with Facebook and Twitter and other "noise."
Are you able to make time for silence in your busy life? Has it changed your life in positive ways?