I sought to bring the same kind of presence to whoever I met with. I developed a spiritual care 10 commandments that I could adapt around patients and their families:
- I’m here to listen to someone’s story; I listen as a way of honouring their trust.
- I am here for them, they are not there for me.
- I am here as my true self: practicing compassion, showing up as loving kindness, listening without judgement through my heart.
- Get my ego self out of the way – self referential questions are never helpful when listening.
- Invite the Holy spirit to help me be present as my true self.
- I accompany someone on the journey around their story. I help them to map out the stars in their sky. The stars are made up from fears, hopes, anger, pain, memory and loves. We explore the brightest constellations for them that day.
- Allow my presence to becomes a pond, still enough for someone to see themselves reflected there, and to help them find their own perspective. A good listening presence becomes a pond of such reflection ( the opposite of Narcissus)
- Relax into all of this because it’s something you love to do.
- Have the courage to take this presence wherever it needs to go.
Okay – only 9 commandments there.
I developed a daily ritual to safeguard my sense of presence. Each morning I’d sit in the chapel before the working day began. The chapel in the infirmary looks like the chancel of an old church, with a pulpit and a communion table, both long redundant, and an array of windows made from stained glass, depicting Edwardian piety.
In the cold air, sometimes I could see my breath. An occasional member of staff would slip in for a prayer then away. It’s here I wouldn’t dare begin my day without claiming a blessing: a shelter of words to enable me to be present to others. The blessing I received each day was the same. It empowered me for whatever lay ahead. I became present to myself and to something of the mystery of God happening in me.
This lent, I’ll return to it again each day. I offer the same blessing to whoever might stray onto here.
A blessing for presence
May you awaken to the mystery of being hereBenedictus – John O’Donohue,
And enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
May you respond to the call of your gift
And find the courage to follow its path.
May the flame of anger free you from falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame
and anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift
Woven around the heart of wonder.