One of the great joys of our valley, in the spring and early summer, is seeing the baby animals. The little calves, colts and fauns are an annual reminder that life renews and cares for itself. Quite near our home, my husband and I have had the tremendous pleasure of watching a mother hummingbird sitting on her eggs until the two TINY hatchlings were born. The little ones, constantly warmed by their mother’s presence, have now developed downy fuzz on their backs and you can see their heartbeats! It’s been an absolutely jaw-dropping, sacred experience to witness new life evolving daily. Above all, I have been awed by the mother’s incredible patience – sitting literally for weeks, staying present with her little ones through days, nights, storms and sunshine. Just being there, loving on those chicks. Imagine a hummingbird – usually a constant blur of motion – sitting absolutely still week after week!
Jesus knew that unconditional presence heals – that being with and loving someone regardless of what they were going through is healing. “The Great Physician” kept company with all sorts of people – from the teachers in the temples to the possessed and blind. He knew the power of presence. When it was time to leave His disciples, what did He promise? Not a place in heaven, no special favors or last minute instructions for church by-laws… He promised His unconditional presence, saying, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Jesus knew that what the disciples needed most was His unconditional, loving presence with them.
Can we also give ourselves the gift of unconditional presence – of staying, lovingly, with all parts of ourselves? Even our not-so-loveable parts? Clinical psychologist John Welwood PhD says “When children are in pain, what they most want is this kind of presence, rather than band-aids or consolations. They want to know we are with them in what they are experiencing. That’s what our wounded places most need from us as well – just to be there with them.” In our times of prayer, as we send loving care to others, let’s remember that Jesus would have us hold ourselves also in loving care. When He said, “The very hairs on your head are all numbered” (Luke 12:7) He was describing just how beloved we are to God. Let’s care for ourselves every day as the beloved people that we are.