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The Power of Presence

As we make connections and build trust with those we visit, it is imperative that we become mindful of being fully present. The first step is taking time to prepare ourselves for a visit. During your training you learned the importance of creating space in your cup as part of your preparation.

Reflect on the following questions:

  1. What do I remember about the Empty Cup?
  2. What tends to fill my cup?
  3. How has my cup impacted my connections?
  4. Have I been taking the time to create space in my cup before, during and after a visit?
  5. How can I continue to create space in my cup in order to be fully present with someone?

So you have prepared yourself for the visit and created space in your cup, so what happens next? It’s time for the visit! Being fully present means listening with our eyes, ears and our hearts. Being fully present means “attending” to the person we are visiting. Remember the 3 S’s of attending?

  1. Space
    • Create space in your cup so you can be fully present to another
    • Create the physical space for listening to occur
    • If using the nucleus ensure you can see and hear each other
  1. Silence
    • Remember to embrace silence
    • It’s ok and necessary for you to engage in conversation with those you visit. If you encounter times of silence, try letting the silence “be” without attempting to fill the silence.
    • If you do not know what to say, let silence be your safety net
  1. Stay in the here and now
    • Stay focused on the person speaking
    • Avoid interrupting the person speaking in order to share your story or experience
    • Paint a picture for yourself of the story being shared with you
    • Visualize emptying your cup during your visit so you can attend to the person speaking
    • It’s only natural that you may find yourself getting distracted at times. If you find yourself getting back into your own cup or thinking about what’s next on your schedule you may find it helpful to
      • Visualize emptying your cup
      • Take a calming breath
      • Say a short prayer to yourself

The power of presence is a gift for you and for the person you are visiting! Blessings be upon you as you share the gift of presence.

Wirtten by Barb Schwery at BeFriender Ministry

Copyright © BeFriender Ministry—A Listening Presence, Bloomington, MN

Mixed Up Understandings

Some of the delightful voices I get to listen to these days are the voices of my grandchildren who amuse our family with the things they say. Things like:

  • Two granddaughters, dressed in new dresses from Grammy, asked her, “Grammy, can you tell us apart?”
  • While playing Scrabble, a granddaughter asked, “Grammy, is IQ a word? I think it has something to do with being smart, but I’m not sure.”
  • When dropping off a grandson and picking up a granddaughter, he asked, “Grammy, are you trading me in for my sister?”
  • While singing an old children’s song, a grandson asked, “What’s a telephone wire?”
  • While cuddling her pet a granddaughter asked, “When dogs hear us, do they hear barking or English?”

Listening to them, my heart and life is filled with the love and joy of those relationships, even in the midst of “mixed up understandings.” As I pondered those listening opportunities I got to thinking that in many cases the “mixed up understandings” come because of their seeing and hearing the world from their own eyes and ears, from their own life’s perspective. And I realized that in a sense all of us do that when listening to others. We therefore need to be careful so that what we are hearing through our own eyes and ears does not get in the way of what the other is really saying. And we need to remember that at the heart of listening is the relationship that can bring joy and fulfillment to both the one being listened to and the one who is listening.

In Mark 10:46-52 we read of Jesus’ healing of blind Bartimaeus. As Bartimaeus is shouting “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” the crowd yells out, “Be quiet.” That reminds me there are still many who are crying out to hear and see and be touched by the love, grace and power of Christ. And how often our own needs, or own “blocks to listening,” can get in the way of our hearing of others, missing opportunities to bring them into the presence, power and peace of Christ, and missing out on those deeper, joy and love filled relationships.

What also amazes me about the story is that Jesus does not assume to know what Bartimaeus is wanting. After stopping and asking to have him brought to him, Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

He was willing to ask a question, which can be a helpful tool in our listening as long as we use it for our deeper listening to others and not just for us.

Gracious and loving God, who listens to our every word and even hears the murmurs of our spirits, may you make us as ready and loving to listen to others. Keep us aware of those blocks to listening that can get in the way of our listening to others so that we might truly hear others words and even the murmurs of their spirits. And in that listening may they and we experience together the joy-filled loving relationships which you intend for all people. In your name we pray. Amen.

Written by Bill Gran from The Good Samaritan Society

 

Happiest When in the Presence of Others

Last fall Trinity was approached through the SD ELCA Synod by Good Samaritan Society (GSS), to participate in a pilot program of their Kin Ministry. Almon, age 87 years young, immediately came to mind when seeking someone to try the Nucleus video phone connection because of his outgoing personality. We approached his daughter, Robin (a member of our congregation), about the idea and she was supportive to the point of excited. She also knew of two family members in particular he would enjoy being able to see when he talked with them – his sister Sharon with health concerns that prevented them from visiting in person very often, and a grandson who had recently returned from serving in the army.

I had very recently completed Befriender Ministry training (Christian based, active listening) when I was paired with Almon. He is a resident of a local assisted living center and we began meeting once a month. After the Nucleus was installed for Almon, we were connecting almost daily. It was immediately obvious to me that being able to see one another gave more meaning to the connection for both of us.

He would question my appearance, making sure I was ok, and I could do the same for him. Almon quickly came up with the fun idea to add video-sharing the latest picture, game, puzzle or a seasonal decoration his family had brought to his room. He especially enjoyed entertaining us both by showing off his new musical, mechanical Santa. As a new member of Almon’s care circle, being able to connect through the Nucleus so easily and frequently enabled Almon to better remember who I was and know that I was someone with whom he could safely share both good times and bad.

Almon is truly happiest when he is in the presence of other people and Kin Ministry’s Nucleus component offers him a way to fill in many of the lonelier times of his day.

To be expected in any pilot program, it took us a little while to work out some of the technical bugs, but the Nucleus itself is ‘push one button to reach me, push two buttons to reach a family member’. A time or two I have been able to witness how special it is to add video to his calls with his sister and we are about to add his grandson to his list of connections. Almon is truly happiest when he is in the presence of other people and Kin Ministry’s Nucleus component offers him a way to fill in many of the lonelier times of his day.

Written by Debby Larson at Trinity Lutheran Church in Yankton, SD