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Being there…


The locks were frozen. When I arrived at our building on Saturday morning, I discovered that the previous night’s winds had driven some of the fine, light snow we enjoyed into the locks on our west facing entry doors. They weren’t all the way full, but full enough so that my key went in about half way and then stopped…up against the ice that had formed inside.

This has happened before…sometimes clogging the works so completely that the only way to get into the building is to trudge through the snow around to the doors on the other side of the building. But I knew from prior experience that such a walk (and the resultant snow-filled shoes) wouldn’t be necessary. If I simply removed my gloves and held on to the key with my bare hands, enough warmth would eventually be transmitted down the key and into the lock…melting the obstruction and allowing the door to be opened.

Sometimes…you just have to stand there for a few minutes, and let the warmth of your own presence take care of the problem.

Over the past two weeks, I spent a good deal of time in an ICU and then a funeral home. There’s not much a person can say in those places as you wrestle with the bitter reality of unexpected illness moving quickly to unexpected death. But it is possible to be present…to let the warmth of one’s own compassion carry the hope of the Gospel until the time is right for speaking. The same is true when we find ourselves at the bedsides of sick friends, or in the presence of those from whom we’ve become estranged. Words fail us. But the Spirit does not…so that even when we cannot speak, we can by our presence embody the love and mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation that these situations demand.

Some good advice attributed to St. Francis: “Speak the Gospel at all times; use words when necessary.” Which means that it’s OK to do ministry with our mouths shut, our gloves off, our hands cold, waiting for the ice to melt. It might make us uncomfortable, but oftentimes being there…just being present for the sake of another…is the best way of sharing God’s good news.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Mary Beth Smith-Gunn permalink
    4February2013 11:56

    Amen and amen. Thanks for the reminder Dave – be blessed!

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