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Speaking to the Soul: In Print v. In Person

Speaking to the Soul: In Print v. In Person

Proper 5, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]


Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 56, 57, (58) (morning) // 64, 65 (evening)

Deuteronomy 30:1-10

2 Corinthians 10:1-18

Luke 18:31-43

Many people might say something in writing or online that they would never say in person. It is so easy for people to take shelter behind anonymity or geography and say on paper or onscreen what they might never say face to face. But in today’s second reading, Paul tries to close the gap between what he has said in his letters and what he would say in person.

How can we close this gap in our own lives? Paul acknowledges that he seems “humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away.” He assures his readers, “I do not want to seem as though I am trying to frighten you with my letters.” He also insists that “what we say by letter when absent, we will also do when present.” It may be a healthy exercise for us as well to check whether what we say in emails or on social media is consistent with what we would say to people in person.

These words from Paul can also increase our empathy for the ways that people communicate best. Apparently, people said of Paul, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” It’s hard for me to imagine Paul, the brilliant letter-writer, as an uncharismatic presence with poor delivery of the spoken word! But that’s how some people experienced him.

In the end, what seems to matter most is not the means of communication, but whether our message is personal, sent from one human being to another. Let’s keep this in mind as we speak, write, read, and listen today.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps  program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


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Ann Fontaine

A good reminder. Also rather than jumping someone’s words – to find out for sure what they are saying. FB and Twitter are shorthand unlike Paul’s letters (the master of the run-on sentence) and subject to all sorts of mis-interpretation.

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