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Dave Brisbin | 10.14.18
Last Thursday was a tale of two hospitals. First a trip to a prominent children’s hospital to speak to the director and manager of spiritual care about new programs they are initiating for patients, families, and clinical caregivers. I am struck by the unhurried presence of the two I meet. Unhurried, gracious, taking their time with me, as if I were the only person in their world until the moment they have to move on to their next meetings. From there, I drive forty miles to visit an elderly friend in critical care in a massive hospital downtown. Darker, more serious, not for kids. I walk into the darkened room and she asks what brought me all the way downtown. I say, only you, dear. I’m here just for you. She says, oh isn’t that wonderful? And we talk and hold hands and seven minutes later, she asks what brought me all the way downtown, and I realize her memory has reset itself. Still carrying the unhurried presence of the last hospital, I choose to enter her world and simply say, only you, dear. I’m here just for you, and she says, oh isn’t that wonderful? We repeat this every seven minutes for the 45 minutes I’m with her, and I have just as much a thrill in telling her as she does receiving the news.

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I have been given the gift of presence voluntarily by two practiced professionals and involuntarily by my friend for whom I am the only person in her world for seven minutes at a time. It’s a study in presence that stays with me as I turn to see how Jesus handled presence, the steps he took to create and maintain, and I find five stories all back to back in one chapter of Luke—chapter five. Reading between the lines of stories that don’t tell but simply show, I find six lessons in the practice of presence that allow us to enter into the world as Jesus sees it, if only for seven minutes at a time.

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