Tuesday’s Word: presence

presence (n):

(1) the state of existing, occurring, or being present in a place or thing;

(2) a person or thing that exists or is present in a place but is not seen

Presence is a vital concept for me these days, as I’m traveling through yet another season of waiting and uncertainty.  I am blessed to have a small circle of tried and trusted friends who walk with me.

One of these dear ones reminds me, over and over, of the value of being present now and here, of neither dwelling on the past nor speculating on the future.  Ann Voskamp, in her book One Thousand Gifts, eloquently describes the kind of presence my friend encourages me to practice:

‘Time is a relentless river.  It rages on, a respecter of no one.
And this, this is the only way to slow time:  when I fully enter time’s
swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all
my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here.’

Another treasured friend gave me the lovely gift of presence in a very tangible way last week.  I was facing, with great anxiety, an unavoidably necessary test.  I gave her enough information to have a sense of what was going on and confided my fear to her, and although she was in the middle of her work day half a continent away, she made herself available to me throughout the afternoon and evening.  Her presence, even in physical absence, calmed and upheld me.  This is surely something of what Tara Brach puts simply and profoundly:  ‘The deepest expression of love is paying attention.’