This being-with is caring presence that refuses to put on an act, refuses to escape the intensity of realness with others. This is about not donning the role of superior, or expert, but acting from the truth of our shared Beingness.
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Author Leo Buscaglia was a judge of a contest to find the most caring child. The winner was a 4-year-old boy. The boy's next door neighbor was an elderly man. The man's wife had recently died. On seeing the man crying, the boy went into the man's yard, climbed on his lap, and just sat there. When the boy's mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, he said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry."
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When a pastor, I got one of those phone calls no pastor looks forward to. The call was to go provide comfort for a family, one of its own had just died. Afterward, reflecting, I sensed I had done nothing that would be seen as impressive. In the estimation of some, possibly I had not performed well at all. Maybe I looked lost. Being fully with persons in suffering can feel that way, like you do not have any idea what you are doing or how you are to be doing. You can feel small in the midst of a big drama unfolding, one that you feel submerged in, while some part of you may be yelling at you to don your caring attire, arise, jump in, assert, and meet the challenge. Like, "Take charge here! they need you to take charge!" Well, they are not saying it, some ego-need to appear in-control is shouting. That part uncomfortable being in that space of not-knowing is yelling.
This reminded me of a visit I made to one of my Hospice patients. He spoke about a chaplain who had visited him prior to my arrival at the hospice and assignment to him. He commented on how the chaplain had entered his trailer, on a first visit, energetic, talking ardently, and continued like this until leaving. He said, "I thought, I don't know how she is going to survive like that." Though I could not, in respect to the other chaplain, comment, I wondered also, for I had seen this trait, a trait of what some would say was immaculate performance. I had sensed so much of the self of this chaplain was being projected, such energy, that the being-with, the spaciousness of not-doing, of caring of not-performing was lacking. Doing well the act of chaplaining, so to speak, was likely obfuscating the being-with essential to compassionate care. I mean, we can get it all, that is all right, and miss this organic process of being-with. This is somewhat like I wrote to hospice chaplain colleagues once, "We can be so professional we are being unprofessional"~no reply was forthcoming.
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To be real-with others suffering, or not suffering, is as much about not-doing-anything as about doing-well-something. The need is to remain conscious, not going into expert or performance mode, which is really a state of sleep. To really, simply care I have found may not look like you are doing much, but there is something beautiful and amazing happening that in some way is allowed to happen. We could call this being-with, as long as we are not merely meaning sharing the space.
This being-with is caring presence that refuses to put on an act, refuses to escape the intensity of realness with others. This is about not donning the role of superior, or expert, but acting from the truth of our shared Beingness. This is loving that is not principally about feeling loving feelings ~ in fact, often I do not feel such feelings when I am consciously caring for others, I do not need to. Authenticity and wakefulness is not principally about any particular way of doing or feeling. Yet, in being wakeful you see the feelings and accept them, you see the urge to over-do and remain firm in being-with. Then, acting from being-with arises naturally.
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For me, meditation is a training in being-with. I can just sit and be-with the breath, the sensations arising in the body, thoughts coming and going, or my fingers moving very slowly bead to bead on a prayer mala. I can be-with the sense of needing to stop and do something, but see that pass by my simply staying with being-with. So, I can feel what it feels like to be in that space of apparent uselessness, but a usefulness reminding me, training me, in the power and grace of the simplicity of presence. Then, meditation itself is an act of compassion. Then, meditation keeps showing me to be-with in realness for others, I must do that for myself, I must be-that-with my life. It all is now. It all is here, anywhere. It is like that little boy being-with his neighbor, helping him cry.
♥ ♥ ♥
Grace and Peace to All
The Sacred in Me bows to the Sacred in You
*Lotus of the Heart is an interspiritual work of Brian Kenneth Wilcox, Florida USA. Brian is a practicing spiritual contemplative, interspiritual Chaplain, and writer of nonfiction and poetry.
*Move cursor over photos for photographer and photo name.
*These presentations, at times, include adaptation to gender-inclusive language in quotes from other writers.