St Mary's Uttoxeter


1 Nov 2023 • Articles

On 9th November 1989 the world woke up to scenes of destruction which caused widespread celebrations rather than emergency responses. The Berlin Wall was being pulled down by citizens of East and West Berlin without opposition from the authorities. The East German government had changed its stance thanks to many complex factors at play including the persistence of communication from diplomats across the western world which had made change a necessity for survival.

Today across our world and even within our communities, situations of conflict, deadlock or just historic behaviours see people on opposing sides living with persistent concerns, stress, or even constant dangers. Communication is such a fundamental element of human society but is so often an issue which causes conflict whilst the lack of it causes isolation and loneliness all too easily.

There is a starting point this month for all of us to recalibrate our stance on this. TuesdayNovember 21 st is designated as “World Hello Day” (yes, you’ve read that right!). The idea is for everyone to greet 10 people they would not normally speak to. This is to demonstrate the importance of personal communication for preserving peace and opening up conversations to understand each other better. This act would also begin to break down barriers of isolation and loneliness for those struggling in our communities as daylight hours get shorter and the weather gets worse. November has the faith festivals of light (Diwali and Hannukah) whilst Christians begin to turn towards the coming of Advent and Christmas with the image of Jesus “Light of the World”. Festivals of light are festivals of hope - we use “hope” in our language when we are projecting the possibility of a change for the better. How often do we talk about there being a “light at the end of the tunnel”? Conflict resolution is nothing new in history and neither is the coming together of a wide range of factors (political, economic, personal) which allow for negotiations to end wars, rivalries, or arguments.

However, the quality of communication and the style of it matters. Just to link on a platform or sit on Zoom chatting does not give all the communication clues that are important for good understanding of others. Neither does communication function at its best without willingness to listen properly and empathise or at least attempt to see things from another’s viewpoint.

The Bible is full of ideas about communication between humans and humans to God and God to humans. Prayer as communication links us to God who recognises our human limitations. Praying is open to all as a means to share our hopes, our joys and our concerns for ourselves and others with God who communicates to us through His Word and through the actions of others and is there to listen at any time and in any place.

As we head through November let’s make it a month of improved communication with God, with our neighbours, with those who are isolated and housebound and say “hello” as we go about our daily lives. And even better if we follow Paul’s advice in Colossians (4:6) “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

Stephanie Goodwin – UAP Reader across the Area