Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Week V - Day 6 - The Gift of Be-ing

Abraham Joshua Herschel
One of the things I am now enjoying about Joyce's book, The Cup of Life, and my blogging is how easy and interesting it is to learn more about those, this teacher must respect since she uses their words and insights in her own writing.  Today Joyce has a quote by Abraham Joshua Heschel - "Just to be a blessing, Just to live is holy." 

I continued to read about Heschel on Wikipedia and discovered other wonderful quotes.  One, I thought so appropriate to this Holy Saturday and to my own desire to become healthier - "All it takes is one person… and another… and another… and another… to start a movement" Wouldn't it be so great if on this Easter weekend, Christians all around the world began to take seriously the message of the become emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthier? One by one...just like Jesus' One Solitary Life.

A popular saying that says,
these are what make God laugh.
One of the Wednesday Lunch Bunch women has felt the tug, become involved with hospice.  She is ahead of me in her reading and this past Wednesday, shared this story of Joyce's experience in hospice with the group. It is stories like this that give me such an appreciation for Joyce! It is stories like this that give me the hope that I can continue to grow in wisdom and insight. 

Like so many of us, Joyce planned what she would do...this time it was what she would do as a volunteer spiritual counselor at a hospice residence. Joyce quickly discovered, once she arrived, that many of the men and women were to near to death to be able to work through the guided imagery exercises she had planned.  She discovered the best gift she could give was to simply be a hopeful presence, helping them know they were not alone.

Offering the gift of be-ing present...
Wednesday, when this story was shared, it brought to mind another story.  A very good friend had a spiritual director who laid very ill in the hospital.  My friend is a wonderful preacher, but he sometimes struggles with the pastoral/caring demands of his work.  He wanted to visit his teacher and mentor, but he didn't know what he would say.  Eventually, he did go and simply sat next to the bedside of his spiritual director, holding his hand...and silently praying.  After twenty minutes, he said, "Amen."squeezed the hand of his friend and left.  He learned later that those twenty minutes of silently praying...had been deeply appreciated.

Not do-ing is difficult for me, and I know many others! Like Joyce, I want to feel like I am "of use." Joyce admits:
"Each time I left a patient I wondered if the time had been worth it. 'What am I doing there?' I'd ask myself. It took me many months before I could be at peace with just being there for each one. I now love to sit by the bedside of a dying person. I know that I receive as much or more than I give. They help me face my own mortality and not to be afraid of death. It is such a special moment to be with someone in his or her final preparation for the mysterious journey to the other side of life." (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p 126^
Joyce talks how we, in the Western world have been conditioned to think that it is only by our do-ing that we make a difference. We have to have something to show for our good intentions...for the use of our time.
"While action is a vital part of Christian love, it has little effect unless there is a quality of 'be-ing' with it. Sometimes the be-ing part of our care is what the other really needs. We may feel better if we do something,...but maybe what they really long for is someone to simply sit..." (Rupp, p 127)
A reminder of this truth for me this weekend is Jesus in Gethsemane. The disciples could not change what was going to happen...they couldn't "fix" the chain of events that were to take place, and Jesus knew that.  Still, he took the three, Peter, James, and John deeper into the Garden with him and told them that he needed them to be with him while he prayed. (Luke 22:39-46)
"Those who live by the sword..."
"He longed for the comfort of their presence and was pained by their inability to provide this for him. Jesus didn't need Peter to slice off an ear of his enemy. He just needed Peter and the others to be there with him as he faced his enemies." (Ibid)
Joyce asks be to consider a difficult question, "Can I trust myself, that I am enough, that I do not always have to be doing something in order to share my compassion?"

Breathing in: Be-ing...
Breathing out:

Look at the cup before you.
Notice how simply it sits there but also how you are 'with' the cup as you gaze upon it.
Intentionally recall the Divine Compassion within you.
Gather to your heart the pain of someone you know.
Be with this person and with the pain.
Do not try to "do" anything other than "be."
Be deeply and intimately bonded with this person.

Scripture: Matthew 26:36-46
38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me"... 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. Couldn't you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.

The most difficult thing for me about 'be-ing' with another who hurts is...
I remember when I needed someone to 'be' with me:
Dear Compassionate One...

The most difficult thing for me about 'be-ing' with another who hurts is...I recognize I am growing in this aspect of be-ing. I have long been one to be/stay in denial...."everything will be okay..." Sometimes there is no fixing an illness, and that person dies.  After all...we all will die...another aspect of living I think I may have tried to deny. At first, when my uncle went into the hospital this past January...the first few days it was about "fixing" him and getting him home.  Because I stayed in the hospital with him, I think the reality that he was not coming home was made aware to me faster than to others in my family.  More than once as conversations drifted toward what he needed to get home, I would ask what he needed "now" to be comfortable.  In some ways, we were saying the same thing, we just had a different vision of "home."

I am a "fix-er"....I come from a long line of "fix-ers". I have had to work hard to learn new ways of be-ing...and I continue to learn through teachers like Joyce.

I shared with a Spiritual Sister that I sometimes think I am a strange combination of having a Mary's heart and Martha's Type A personality.  I have a deep yearning to sit at Jesus' feet AND I have a tendency to want to have something to show for my time and efforts. I know it is possible to work from a place/an attitude of peace and calm.  I know that comes from valuing my Mary heart and allowing it to influence/guide my Martha personality.

Halo Brace for broken necks.
I remember when I needed someone to 'be' with me: After the 1998 car accident, I was in the hospital and rehab for several weeks with a broken neck  I had a halo brace screwed into my head that prevented much mobility of the upper body.  I had to learn to walk again, to feed myself....thinking was difficult which was frustrating and frightening. I had many who came to stand by my bed....several of them being well meaning pastors who wanted to make me feel better by patting my hand and telling me how much God loved me...

I did not feel lucky, nor did I feel as though God loved me and...their attempts to "fix" me only fueled the silent anger and despair that was welling up inside my heart.  What I most needed was someone willing to come and sit with sit with my anger, my questions, my doubts.  I needed someone to just "be" with me.  It hasn't been until this reading that I have been able to articulate that simply of what I most needed at that time.  I knew what was NOT helpful....but I have not been able to define what would have been helpful.

Thank you, Joyce.

When I run away from the call to
"be there" bring me back...for
"Just to be, is a blessing"
God of compassion,
When I hesitate to be with another, strengthen me.
When I question the quality of my presence, assure me.
When I want to show my worth through action, humble me.
When I miss the needs of the one who suffers, awaken me.
When I forget the beauty of a loving presence, remind me.
When I run away from the call to be there, bring me back.

Close by repeating this line several times:
"Just to be is a blessing."

I will be present to another without charging into action.

I Come to The Garden Alone 

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

1 comment:

  1. Oh, to be present and focused rather than scattered. Just as Jesus went alone with others nearby, I, too, need to be able to find my "garden" where I can go alone to spend time with my Heavenly Father.
    I was touched by the video of "One Solitary Life" and the quote "All it takes is one person… and another… and another… and another… to start a movement."
    May I be moved to "Be-ing Present" and compassionate with others.