To be present
A reflection from “Together in Solitude” on partnership
To be present is to be vulnerable, to be able to be hurt, to be willing to be spentøbut it is also to be awake, alive, and engaged actively in the immediate assignment that has been laid upon us.
I believe that in the period that lies ahead, there is not deeper challenge in our personal, spiritual, and social witness all over the globe than this issue of learning to be present where we are in our personal relationships and making our witness and effort to rouse men and women to dare to be present to each other. The issue of peace and war, the issue of racial tensions, the issue of an educational breakthrough, the issue of our responsibility to contribute to the quickening of the relationships of the great world religionsøall come down in the end to this daring to be present where we are.
There is One who, on that road out of Jerusalem to the little town of Emmaus, taught his companions of the road and of the table what it was to be present. “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked with us by the way?” That same quickening presence still walks by our side. That same presence kindles our meetings for worship and reveals to us our failure to be truly present with our families, our friends, and our brothers in the world. It is there in his presence when we are given again the gift of tears, that we are once more joined to all the living, that hope is restored to us, and that we are re-baptized into the sacredness of the gift of life and of the gift of being set down here among our fellow humans who, in the depth of their being, long to be truly present to each other (p. 177).
Douglas V. Steere
This quotation from one of the great Quaker thinkers of our era is from his book of collected essays, Together in Solitude, published by Crossroad, 201pp, $12.95.