Sometimes I think we over estimate skill, brains, and strategy. More and more I think what really matters is showing up. There are days when I don’t want to go somewhere, when I have so much to do, so little time to devote to my many passions, and only a limited amount of energy, and yet I stretch whatever is inside and make my way to a place. And when I am there I see, I hear, I connect to someone who makes a difference to my life. At the end of the day I marvel at those experiences and encounters and question how it is that these seem to matter more to me than all the careful plans I lay.
When we show up we do many things, we demonstrate that we care enough to make the time and space to be present to another. Showing up also demonstrates a willing to go further, to journey with the other. Finally, showing up stretches something deep inside, it pulls us away from ourselves outward and makes our nature one of openness and wonder.
Today I witnessed the “showing up” outlook come alive in front of my very eyes. A Minister colleague was tired and not sure she would be at the foodbank where I found myself early this morning. In her opening and welcoming prayer this Minister shared, “God we give thanks for those who sit beside us with nothing to do. Isn’t it wonderful God when we come along side with nothing to do but just be…” I realized at that moment I am never one who comes along side with nothing to do. I frequently have lists and lists and lists. These lists help me to focus, specifically to allow me to “show up” in as many places as possible. But I acknowledge and confess that when I show up it is seldom with “nothing to do but be present.”
I find this tension very challenging, to be present, to show up, and yet to be so fully present in my showing up that I give myself totally to whomever or whatever I discover. I try, I think I am better at it than in my younger years. Ironically I find the more organized I am, the better my lists, the more patient and present I am with whomever I am with. I don’t need to let my mind race ahead because I know I have the time. I have made the time.
At some point in my life I do look forward to being able to explore being with others while having nothing to do but be with the other. At this stage in my life I seem to be choosing quantity over quality but I do take some solace that for many of the others I show up to meet our encounter is one of the few they will have in the day. Maybe the quantity, such as it is, is enough. I know it is for me, I personally get so much from my experience of “showing up”. It makes me a different person. It’s like stretching a muscle and more we do it, the more we show up, the more flexible, the more nimble, and the more open we become.
Thanks be to God for persons like my colleague who shows up with nothing to do but be with others. Maybe one day I will get there too.