Friday, October 11, 2013

Be a lap to others

Even as an adult, haven't you sometimes felt so sad or exhausted with life's events that you just wanted to crawl into someone's lap and have them hold you close and say, "There, there, it's OK. Just let me hold you." I think we are never too old to want comfort and nurturing. We may be ashamed to admit we want it. But, be honest now, don't you?

Rachel Naomi Remen in My Grandfather's Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging tells the story of a very small girl whose kitten died. Most of the adults in her life told the little girl not to cry because the kitten was in heaven. Of course, that did little to really comfort the girl. So one day she turned to her grandmother and asked "Why?" Rather than give answers and advice, the grandmother simply scooped the little girl onto her lap and held her tightly. The girl sobbed, and so did the grandmother. It was just what the little girl needed—a lap, a place of refuge.

When that little girl grew up, she became a doctor highly skilled at working with AIDS patients. And one day she told Remen, herself a doctor, "... what I really want to be for my patients is a lap. A place from which they can face what they have to face and not be alone."

That story really spoke to me. Most times when I share something scary or painful with a friend, I don't want advice. I just want to be heard. Sometimes I want to be held. I want a lap at times! That tells me that in all likelihood, others may want that same thing. You and I don't need to have all the answers. Often it's more important to simply be a presence. A loving presence. A lap. An ear. A shoulder on which to cry.

Who in your life needs a lap? Needs your loving presence? And when you need that, can you ask someone for it?

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