Time to be present

There was a passage from a book I recently read, Strangers at My Door, that really stood out to me:

“When David, a retired man on welfare, moves in with us, he assumes a position on the couch by our front door. He sits there 10-12 hours a day with a cup of tea and a Bible. He’s never really read the Bible, he tells us. He decides to start at the beginning and read straight through. What’s more, he is always eager to hear how you’re doing when you come in the door, always glad to tell you about the most fascinating story that he was just reading. ‘Did you ever hear this one?’

When I was growing up, my great-granny lived with us. She was always there when I got home from school, always eager to listen. As I sat and ate her biscuits, warm out of the oven, she told me stories about growing up in the hills of southern Virginia, fetching milk from the spring box and carrying chickens down the main road to trade them at the market. When you’re 8 years old, the great wide world of school can feel like a wild and crazy place sometimes. Coming home to Granny’s stories and biscuits was a stabilizing rhythm, I realize. Maybe my parents thought we were caring from Granny. Maybe we were. But to me, her presence was an anchor in the storms of my early life.

David and my granny came from different worlds, but they are alike in this way: they have time to be present.

I like this imagery of an anchor. I can relate, in my own way.

Since my grandmother moved down to live near us, we have developed some really sweet traditions that I cherish. When I was in college, she’d take me out to lunch – we always got lobster pizzas from Red Lobster – and shopping at a thrift store. Now that I’m married our visits aren’t as long, so there usually isn’t time for that. Our rhythm has morphed into a weekly phone call.

Every week we catch up on life – what movies she’s seen, what friends I’ve visited, the latest news or family drama. She often ends our call with something along the lines of “I’m so glad you make time for these calls; I really treasure them.” I’m glad that she values them so. But the calls are not an imposition to me. I treasure them, too.

Through these lunch dates, shopping outings, and phone calls, my grandmother has become my friend. A dear friend who has much more wisdom and experience than I, and can provide an anchor when I’m being tossed around my storms. No matter what, I know that she will always answer my call eagerly, that she will always be in my corner.

I’m sure the idea of having someone to support you through tough times sounds appealing to anyone.

For someone to be able to anchor you, however, you have to decide to let them.

You have to invest time in them – to tell them your stories and listen to theirs. It is work sometimes, but it is always worth it.

Are you giving yourself time to be present? Are you allowing time for other people to anchor you?  

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