When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. ~Henri Nouwen
On the last day of my summer internship at the Mental Health Clinic, Gret, my mentor and my friend at MHC, gave me a good-bye gift. It was Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen. For three months we’d worked side by side, facilitating out-patient therapy groups. I struggled with not knowing how to lead, how to help, how to heal the shattered souls we spent our days with.
Gret knew we weren’t the healers. She knew when to gently encourage and when to be silent.
As the years passed, I forgot many of the lessons I learned that summer. I got caught up in the culture of the church and my own natural inclination to try to fix things. I learned to deflect a portion of the pain with a quick prayer or a verse or a pot roast.
It was in my own moments of brokenness that I was reminded of what Gret had modeled and the gift she had given so many years earlier. I know now that when healing comes, it’s God, not me, who is the Healer.
I’m trying to practice giving the gift of not: not curing, not leaving, not quoting, not fixing, not solving.
I used to pray for answers. Now I pray that my presence will be a comfort, my hands warm and tender and my lips, still.