Presence With Others


Recently I observed a young couple sitting around a large fire pit in a winter resort community, dressed warmly in winter garb, but each one focused exclusively on their smart phones, and I wondered…

…Were they together to celebrate their first anniversary? Their rings were still shiny, but their companionship had grown cold. No outdoor fire pit would heal their broken hearts. If given the opportunity for a brief interchange I would encourage them to hold fast to one another despite the feelings that had waned so early into their marriage. It reminded me of how un-present I can be with those who share my love and life.  It’s way too easy to just tune another out, drown out their voice with internal and external distraction, or simply lose the energy to keep working on the vitality of the relationship.

If you’re there and don’t want to be any longer, let me be so bold as to suggest to you (as I consider them for myself) a few helpful hints for practicing the presence of people: 1. Eye contact – when we have our eyes peeled elsewhere (away from another or unfocused and adrift from the conversation), simply turn toward your friend or loved one and open your eyes to see how they are truly doing;   2. Incline your ear – listen with a compassionate heart to truly attend with empathy (walking in the shoes of another at such a depth that stating what you’re hearing is affirmed by the speaker); and  3. Hold your tongue – by far the best way to be present is when we aren’t trying to convince, conjole, compare or contrast our stories with theirs, but quietly and prayerfully holding their story instead.

Behold the presence of another – believe that s/he is a beloved child of God – belong to one another as spiritual friends – become companions with those who desire time spent together for the express purpose of being present, nothing more, nothing less.

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