The Ministry of Presence


More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them.

It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems.

My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress.

But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.

~Henri Nouwen from The Practice of the Presence of God

I do find myself too wrapped up in the trappings of the “useful” life – meetings, committees, schedules, strategic priorities – and forget there is so much living usefully that I neglect to do.

There needs to be more potlucks, more “oh, by the way” conversations, more connections “just because”, more loving people as I hope to be loved.

Wish I could invite you all over for breakfast. We’d have a wonderful chin wag.

10 thoughts on “The Ministry of Presence

  1. I find this so very true in my life. My best days are when I forget the schedule and enjoy the moment. He always rewards me with progress in my endeavors while I enjoy the fruit of His presence.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. .Dear Emily, chin wagging over breakfast on the farm up there in the north is a life-giving idea! : ) ……with chin-wagging being the primary nourishment, some food the minor element, (simple if a potluck of “easies.”) Breakfast with friends has a special ease and joy………. Andreaming

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my Emily, I really thought I was an undiciplined lay about with no ambition :). The higher title, the higher education was never a lure. But people and animals, nature and the nurturing souls and bodies. These have always brought me the deepest joy.

    Liked by 1 person

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