In Ireland story-telling is embedded in the culture of who we are. As far back as we can remember there must have been story-telling and the sharing of ‘a good yarn’ in the dusk of an evening at the fire or in the coming together at the crossroads after a hard day’s work in the fields. This seems even now to be the simple essence of social communication – a desire to draw together, to share and discuss and exchange our experiences where others want to listen and are free to comment and express their views. Communication is a social, joyous, enriching thing. Or at the very least it should be.
In these times of social isolation and distancing that we are all currently experiencing – communications offers us a strange paradox. Those who can, have never relied more on virtual social communication – from Facetime, to Zoom, Facebook, Tik Tok (name your platform) for social life, information updates, and spiritual inspiration. In some ways one could say there is a daily deluge of media coming at us – but is that the essence of the communication that we need most?
In his message for World Day of Social Communications on Sunday 24th May Pope Francis speaks about the role of communications in telling and sharing stories. But not just any old story. He reminds us that the role of communications is not just simply telling and sharing stories to advertise ourselves, but rather of remembering who and what we are in God’s eyes, bearing witness to what the Spirit writes in our hearts and is revealing to us and to everyone. Each of our stories (he reminds us) contain marvellous things.
In fact, a good story can transcend the confines of space and time. Centuries later, it remains timely, for it nourishes life.
Up until now I had been reading this message as relating solely to those who are ‘out there’ – key players in the digital world, writing to inform us, and with really very little to do with the person at home missing hugely the daily banter and exchange and sheer energy of human communication in shared space and time. Reading the message in the light of living this current pandemic experience, it also has something to say to us about how and why we communicate with those we miss and those we love, and those who are alone during this separation ‘we are still in God’s eyes, bearing witness to what the Spirit writes in our hearts’. It has also something to contribute to how we use opportunities for communication with colleagues and callers, and how we respond to online requests as we work remote and removed from each other?
The title of this year’s Message from Pope Francis is drawn from the Book of Exodus:
“That you may tell your children and grandchildren …. what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord” (Ex 10:2)
The Exodus experience teaches us that knowledge of the Lord is handed down from generation to generation mainly by telling the story of how he continues to make himself present. The God of life communicates with us through the story of life.
“Life is given to us as an invitation to continue to weave the “wonderful” mystery that we are”.
O Mary, woman and mother,
you wove the divine Word in your womb,
you recounted by your life the magnificent works of God.
Listen to our stories,
hold them in your heart and make your own
the stories that no one wants to hear.
Teach us to recognise the good thread that runs through
Look at the tangled knots in our life that paralyse our memory
By your gentle hands,
Every knot can be untied.
Woman of the Spirit
mother of trust, inspire us too.
Help us build stories of peace,
stories that point to the future.
And show us the way to live them together.
Each of us knows different stories that have the fragrance of the Gospel, that have borne witness to the Love that transforms life. These stories cry out to be shared, recounted and brought to life in every age, in every language, in every medium.
See 54th World Day of Social Communications Message from Pope Francis HERE
Telling our story – to find out more about Nano Nagle and the Presentation Congregation see Nano Nagle – The Life and the Legacy