Don’t just do something, stand there.
Okay, so here’s the best quote in the world for me when it comes to feeling deeply,
“Don’t just do something, stand there.”
Sometimes, this thought undoes me.
Like when someone is sharing a difficult confession, looking for help I can’t give or expressing their hurt and suffering.
I want to DO something. Anything. I want to make it better. To tell them it’s only for a season and life is on the up. To confront the source of pain and put it right. Or just provide the antidote whether it be finance, friendship or anything else that comes to mind.
But too often, there is little we can DO. And so much more we can BE.
Apparently this quip was first attributed to a director working with a young actress who was madly weaving across the stage rather than delivering a performance of substance.
But I first heard this quote used meaningfully in a radio interview with a retiring Australian doctor who had worked as a young man in Papua New Guinea. He saw himself as a healer. The one making sure all was well with people’s physical bodies. But people died. He couldn’t always change that. And what was he to do with the suffering that followed?
He learned that he was to DO nothing.
When a person died in a village, the family would lay out a trail of lights along the river leading to the family hut. This was the invitation to visit. Across the day and night the people would come. They would enter the hut. Stand still. Wordlessly acknowledge the family. Wait. Then return home.
It was enough.
Enough love. Enough support. Enough encouragement.
The act of being present said everything the family needed; we see, we care and we will come.
I’m practicing standing there.
Offering my presence and love. Hoping it will be enough and knowing its all I’ve really got to give.