One of the greatest gifts we can offer another person is “presence.” When we are present, we offer time and attention. We focus on the feelings and needs of someone else. Author and spiritual leader, Parker Palmer, writes about the need to be present. He writes that we need to be non-invasive and non-evasive. Non-invasive behavior does not look to fix or judge. Non-evasive behavior does not leave the other when the going gets tough.
A colleague of mine talks about presence by using “minimalist” language. He lifts up the importance of removing clutter like excessive technology and a pursuit of the latest and greatest in material possessions. For him, a minimalist life helps us see what is most important. And for him, relationships are what life is all about. We need to be there for others physically, as well as mentally and emotionally.
Jesus was constantly present with others. In Luke 19:1-10, Jesus enters Jericho and sees Zacchaeus, a wealthy, despised, tax collector, in a tree. Jesus surprises everyone by telling him to come down. Jesus wants to stay with him. In Luke 24:13-35, Jesus approaches two travelers on the Road to Emmaus. These travelers are sad and downtrodden. Jesus has died and they don’t see much hope in the world. Jesus eventually joins them on the journey, but they don’t know its Jesus. Jesus gives his undivided attention to these travelers.
Inspired by our Lord, might we seek to be present with others. It’s a little bit harder in this pandemic time, but we can still offer a sense of presence. Allow me to offer a few thoughts.
One, when you are with someone who is hurting, avoid the temptation to offer a quick fix. It’s possible the other party doesn’t want us to solve the problem. They just want us to be there.
Two, if possible, summarize what you hear and feel from the other party. This helps the other person understand their situation better. Helping someone see what they can’t see is a further gift you can give.
Might we give ourselves to others and see the difference we can make! Blessings to you!