As heart warming as Christmas can be, the days after can leave the heart low and empty for many. The season leading up to Christmas invites us to be attentive for the advent of some new manifestation of the divine mystery in the coming of light. The season after Christmas invites us, perhaps even urges us, to be just as attentive to the grace of darkness that descends on those who struggle with depression. As we celebrate the rising light, let’s also be willing to set it aside in order to be with those who continue to dwell in deep darkness. Parker Palmer wrote of such a gift of loving presence in one of his On Being columns, “The Gift of Presence, the Perils of Advice.”
“The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved,” he wrote. “It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through.”
It’s a column worth reading if you want to offer to someone close to you what may be the most important gift possible.