I’ve been thinking a lot about presence this week. As Mary and I settle in to a new life in a new place we need to very present to each other. It reminds me of when we first brought Oliver home and he refused to sleep and Mary had a long recovery from a difficult childbirth. We needed to be close to each other, to hold each other, to lift each other up and strengthen each other. It is an honour and privilege to be here in Duncan and we are excited to be here and can’t wait to see what God has in store for us and for St. Andrew’s, yet there is still this need to sit still and hold each other from time to time.
On Sunday evening I was inducted into my post here as the minister, but my real induction took place a few hours before that service, when I went to the home of a congregant to discuss the funeral of her husband of 55 years. You see, this week I am walking alongside a woman who has lost her husband after a long illness. She and her son are full of grief and uncertainty about what life will be like without their loved one, they are also full of love, grace, and kindness, a legacy of the man involved. I didn’t know him but I have come to appreciate the man he was by witnessing what he has left behind. In the process my not knowing him is proving less consequential than I would have thought. I think it’s because I am offering not my knowledge of their loved one, but simple presence at a hard time.
We are pack animals and there is much solace to be found in the company of others. In our world of Facebook and social media we sometimes lose sight of how important presence really is. This makes me think afresh about Psalm 22 and Jesus’s use of it, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Forsaken in this context has to do, I think, with the sense of abandonment we can feel at difficult times. Whether they be the truly hard moments, like when we are called upon to let go of our own lives, or of a loved one, or the moments when we must leave something else behind, community becomes more important, more alive, more essential, than we ever thought it could be.
As thanksgiving approaches I want to leave you with a prayer by Anne Lamott, it is also the title of a book by her it’s real short and real sweet, and my two year old loves to say it for grace it goes like this: