The Power of Presence

by Deacon Stephen Bowling

As July settles in and the days get hot, I marvel at just how many folks I’m seeing who actually are taking real, formal vacations.

It seems the days of “giving it a miss” as Monty Python would say are becoming more and more infrequent – and I for one am glad. God made the Sabbath for us because we truly need it . . . and we need it very much in short-term, mid-range and long-term measures.

Yet, while our “long term Sabbaths” are indeed necessary, in our American, workaholic culture they often simply serve as reminders of how we are not well-serving those very important and often neglected people in our lives the rest of the year – our family.

Jim Eliot once said, “Wherever you are, be all there” and that succinctly sums up what our families need from us. In our Joined by Grace, marriage preparation program, we “go deep” in discussing the need for the husband and the wife being “fully present” to each other, mirroring our reception of God’s presence in the sacrament of Confirmation as we complete our Christian initiation. Ask any child or spouse at an undistracted moment and you’ll hear the truth . . . “we” just want “you” here with “us”.

I truly believe that we must better learn to recognize that we are all far-too-often not fully present to those we love . . . and that we all have to work hard at it if we want that to be different.

We must never forget that it is “home” which matters.

It is “home” which is supposed to be always faithful to us, and it is “home” and “home” alone which will always “go the distance” for us. Should we not be a little more deliberate about the daily “distance” we go for them?

This summer, this Sabbath . . . remember the thing that matters most is very likely just “being there” . . . and you just might be surprised how life giving that ultimately turns out to be.

Like the old Alka Seltzer commercial used to say “try it, you’ll like it”!


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