Last week I had a line of a hymn in my head: let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.
Today the hymn fragment that is caught in my head is: abide with me. I think this phrase lodged in my head several days ago when I bought Elizabeth Strout’s book of the same name, after being so impressed with Olive Kitteridge that I wanted to read more. But it keeps coming back, humming its short descant in my brain.
So I guess I should listen. My friend whose due date approaches wrote to me, in response to my post to her, If there is only one thing about mothering, about loving, period, it’s that we face things with each other. We can’t fix things or stave off loss or change people, but we can face things together. In classic fashion she spoke clearly something I’ve been thinking fuzzily. And this seems to me another meaning of abide with me.
Isn’t this – this abiding with one another – one way we make our love and affection manifest? It seems another way to talk about “holding space,” a wonderful expression that I learned from Nancy Jane Smith at Live Happier. Holding space – abiding with someone – seems as simple and as challenging as just being with that person.
Just being – ourselves, with someone else, aware – is no small feat for most of us. Being present to someone else with our conscious self. Bearing witness to someone else without judgment. Listening to someone else without agenda. This is a true gift. And I know I’m not great at it. Which is no doubt why the universe has planted this reminder in my head. I’m listening.