Monday, November 7, 2011

be present

Simply being with someone is difficult because it asks of us that we share in the other's vulnerability, enter with him or her into the experience of weakness and powerlessness, become part of uncertainty, and give up control and self-determination. And still, whenever this happens, new strength and new hope is being born. Those who offer us comfort and consolation by being and staying with us in moments of illness, mental anguish, or spiritual darkness often grow as close to us as those with whom we have biological ties. They show their solidarity with us by willingly entering the dark, uncharted spaces of our lives. For this reason, they are the ones who bring new hope and help us discover new directions. Henry Nouwen, Compassion

I am in the middle of some really excellent books. This is one of them. My transfer students are reading it and processing about loss, suffering, and compassion.

I really enjoyed this has some of my favorite words and phrases in it:

simply being
give up control
new hope
being and staying
dark, uncharted spaces
discover new directions

For someone who really likes order and control, it's interesting that these are the things that leap off the page for me.

What speaks to you?


  1. "Willingly entering the dark, uncharted spaces of our lives"

    You titled this 'be present' and that caught my eye. I notice in myself a tendency to drift out to never-never-land when I'm attempting to get to know someone. Its not that I don't care...its that my brain shifted into ADD mode. This is a pet peeve I have about myself. I want to be genuinely attentive. Sometimes I have to work hard at it though. Communication is hard enough when everyone is attentive.

    People are different, and language is...inefficient. I'm often amazed that people ever accurately communicate their opinions, intentions and feelings given these circumstances.

    The problem is further complicated by our (read: American) urgency. We are continually optimizing our circumstances to be the most profitable. Getting to know someone with "solidarity" often doesn't make the cut. :-(

  2. rob, i know what you mean...often, when i am spending time with students, i am in the coffee shop on campus...i have people add...i get so distracted by the people walking by that i struggle to give full attention to the student in front of me.