Thursday, November 20, 2014

The power of presence

I will always remember the scene even though it occurred more than 40 years ago. My sister's young husband had just been killed in a car accident. I was preparing to pack up our youngest son, an infant, and drive up to be with my sister. My husband and two older sons would follow later.

My heart was breaking for my sister and my young nephew. The doorbell rang. When I opened the door, a friend from our congregation simply enfolded me in her arms and said, "I'm so, so sorry." It was just what I needed at the moment: a long, strong hug. No pious platitudes. Simply a loving, caring presence. I didn't need answers. There simply weren't any. I didn't want to hear any easy, simple phrases about why this happened or what good might come from it. This was tragic and sad,  and no words were going to make it right.

Sometimes all you and I need to do in similar situations is just be a presence. A loving, caring, silent presence. We don't need to have answers. We don't need to find just the right words. Just show up. Just hug or hold. Just bring a hot dish—or provide a service that's needed but getting lost in the unfolding situation. Just your presence. That's powerful enough.

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