Sit With Me for a While

That morning I headed out from the hostel on my bike, passing by the picnic table where Ruth was sitting in the sun.

“Sit with me for a while, Connie,” Ruth said from her perch.

I leaned the bike against the table and sat down. Ruth was eighty-three, a Canadian staying at the hostel while her apartment was being renovated. She’d told us when we talked around the kitchen table that she’d started staying in hostels during the fifties. She’d done a lot of traveling over the years since she’d never had children and was divorced.

“Nice day for you to ride your bike,” she said. “I used to love to ride but I can’t since I had my knee replacement. Lots of things change when you get old.”

fullsizeoutput_461

She’d hung the sheets on the clothesline, and the steady breeze that was constant off the St. Lawrence River that flowed in front of the Tibbett’s Point Lighthouse Hostel, whipped the sheets. We watched as if waiting for them to dry. Then Ruth continued.

“I got some sad news today. My friend died. She suffered with Alzheimer’s,” Ruth said, and shook her head, looking down at the grass. “You just don’t know how things are going to go when you get to this point in life. At least you have children.”

There was nothing I could say, no cheerful remark that would change anything.

This was the exact situation that I knew that I, like many people, avoided because of not knowing what to say. It’s hard to witness someone’s pain and not be able to do anything. We want to fix things and sometimes we can’t.

We sat there in silence. Being present was what I could offer.

Eventually she changed the subject, moving to something brighter.

“Where are you going on your next journey?” she asked.

“I’m not sure, Ruth. But like you, I’m sure I’ll be thinking about it by the time I’m leaving New York, catching my flight back to North Carolina.”

She smiled and nodded in agreement.

“You should get to Europe. They have some fabulous hostels there,” she said. “Go before it’s too late. I’ve stayed in hostels in many countries, but now those days are over.”

 

fullsizeoutput_464

Tibbett’s Point Lighthouse, Cape Vincent, New York

I’ve thought of that conversation many times over the years. I was glad that I had those moments with Ruth, even though it was hard to listen to her pain, to the reality she presented about the passage of time.

I think of my discomfort in situations where I fear that I will have no way to fix the situation. But now, as I consider this, it assumes that it’s about me, about my ability to make something happen. It takes control away from that person and gives it to me.

They don’t need me to control the situation. What is needed from me is to be presnt. To sit with them for a while. The presence of another person, in itself, reassuring, that they are not physically alone, even though they may be alone in their situation.

I don’t need to say anything. Many times I’ve overvalued words and undervalued supportive silence. Whether it’s a person in my path during my solo journey, like Ruth, or visiting with my mother at the nursing home, or listening to a friend share a struggle, sitting with someone and being completely available to them is invaluable.

I will always be glad I accepted Ruth’s invitation to, “Sit with me for a while.”

fullsizeoutput_b9c

How About You?

How do you deal with listening to difficult topics?

How can you be present for someone who needs you?

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Sit With Me for a While

  1. Such a beautiful story, Connie. I need to remember how important “sitting with”–a friend, a moment in time, a word–can be.

    Like

    • Hey Jennifer,
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I like how you included sitting with “a word” because doing that in centering prayer is more powerful than I would have ever imagined.
      Best to you every moment this day,
      Connie

      Like

  2. Well-said dear Connie. It has taken time for me to learn to honor people’s feelings, including my own. I agree being present over fixing is what we are called to do. Thankful Christ is not finished with me yet. Have a blessed Sunday, Julie

    Like

    • Hey Julie,
      Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. I like how you included honoring your own feelings. Sometimes we give this grace to everyone but ourselves. Christ isn’t finished with us yet, and will lead us in the ways that will help us, and others, in that growth.
      You have a great Sunday as well, Julie.
      Connie

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Connie, Each time I read your posts, I sit with you a while. You capture me in whatever the subject, you choose. There is no meaning to any of this, other than you give us the time to sit a while.
    Great stuff.
    John.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.