| David Barickman |

This summer I am working as a chaplain intern in a Clinical Pastoral Education program at a Catholic hospital in Indianapolis. This program is teaching me about many things. What I’m finding most insightful, though, is the power of presence.

In just a few weeks, I have had the pleasure of spending time with patients from many different backgrounds, faiths, and walks of life. One thing all of these encounters shared in common was the importance of presence. It seems, no matter who we are, in crisis moments, we simply need someone with us, to hear our story, to see our tears, to share our pain, and not run away.

For me, these have been holy moments. I have felt honored to share these sacred spaces with total strangers. They have invited me into their lives in their most vulnerable moments. All I can do in return is remain present. What I’m finding is, for the most part, that’s all they want.

Still, there are many times when remaining present is hard. Times when, given the circumstances and the emotions being shared, I feel myself wanting to escape out of the room. In these moments, I think being present is hard because I don’t want to get messy. I don’t want to enter into the chaos, pain, and reality of someone else’s situation.

It’s not that we don’t all have our own messes; we do. But, generally, we keep them hidden, far away from the public eye. In the hospital room, life gets messy and it’s not possible to hide it. However, if we stay present, despite the mess, we may share in something truly sacred.


This week, ask yourself:  How can I encourage presence in the communities that surround me? Whether it be a community of faith, education, family and friends, work or otherwise. How might I be present in the lives of those around me? Am I willing to enter into someone else’s mess and not run away?