You would think that someone who makes a living addressing media influence and the importance of silencing the noise in our lives wouldn’t have to be reminded about applying such things to her own Christian walk. But all of us, especially those in ministry, need a little nudge now and then to help us really practice what we preach.
This was made abundantly clear to me as I made my way through Italy and Israel the past few weeks leading pilgrimages to the Shroud of Turin exhibit and the Holy Land. I left home May 11th and didn’t return to the states until a month later. Although I was also on assignment for EWTN and Ave Maria Radio and responsible for filing live reports several times a week for my daily radio program, for the most part I was disconnected from the world. While I had to check my e mail occasionally, I steered clear of the TV, the radio, and the Internet in general. It was so refreshing not to hear all the bad news on the oil spill, or the healthcare developments, or the on-going and various debates that continue to rage in Washington and elsewhere. And again even though media influence is my area of expertise, I definitely discovered that I was in dire need of a refresher course. Blessed Mother of Teresa of Calcutta said God is found in the silence. For me I became acutely aware of God in the sounds that made up my environment. The silence in my case was elimination of the daily deluge of media messages that stream into my world on a daily basis.
As I traveled through Italy I allowed me to hear the melodious voices of families that streamed out of quaint villages or cafes as they went about their day. There were also the voices of choirs and other pilgrim groups that filled the churches along our route. I would close my eyes and just allow myself to listen to the prayers and the singing and wondered if this is what heaven must be like. From my little apartment in the very old Roman neighborhood of Trestevere along the Tiber River I looked forward to hearing the sea gulls as they gathered on top of the terra cotta rooftops scoping out the buildings and balconies for scraps of food. In the Holy Land I had a few glorious days alone along the Sea of Galilee before leading my next pilgrimage. Again, no TV, no radio, and only an occasional phone call and e-mail check home and to the radio network. In Israel it was the sounds of the waves along Lake Gineseret, and the wind moving through the palm trees that garnered most of my attention. In addition to reading Scripture, and praying at the Mt. of Beatitudes or Church of the Primacy of Peter, I spent many an hour just doing nothing, just being and allowing myself to imagine Jesus walking along the sea shore or gazing up at the stars as I did. Not having the daily distractions of a busy media saturated life allowed for my own mini sabbatical and made quite a difference in my attitude and sense of well being.
It wasn’t really silence in the sense of complete absence of any sound but it is really amazing what you do hear when you don’t have all the clatter of the media rattling on in the background. I can’t say that I had what some might consider a major mystical experience but then again maybe I did. Maybe the Lord just wanted me to be refreshed and renewed and re-visit that old saying that silence is not only much needed from time to time, but really is golden after all.