When I worked for a national organization of chaplains, we often talked about the ministry of presence. As people struggle with grief and face challenges, they need someone to show up and be with them. To be present.
Henri Nouwen eloquently explained this ministry of presence, “I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.”
Somehow we think we must always come up with a perfect quote or a special Bible verse to help another person over the hump.
But my quote is not your quote. Your Bible verse may not help me at all.
So feeling the need to impart great wisdom rarely shares hope, especially for those who are suffering.
During this year of grief, my son’s illness and unanswered questions, hope has shown itself in the ministry of presence.
I have been blessed by special friends who were determined to just be present: An invite for morning coffee or a spontaneous offer of iced tea which then morphed into supper at Red Robin. Hugs. A plate of gluten free treats. A listening ear. An “I’m thinking about you” card or an “I’m praying for you” text.
No wise quotes. No Bible verses. No “You should do this” statements.
These “present” friends granted me space and allowed me the time to heal in my own way. No expectations. No judgment.
Plenty of hope.
Now I am determined to pay it forward – to just be present when I meet another struggling pilgrim.
When others are suffering, to offer that cup of coffee or the iced tea that sweats all over the table or the meal at Red Robin with bottomless fries which I don’t need but sometimes taste really good.
To be the one who shares hope without words of wisdom, sans my ideas of what might help. To just be there as a person who cares.
Hopefully, I can do for others what others have done for me.
©2018 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
For nuggets of hope, check out Hope Shines – now available in regular or large print.