16 May 2008


Being available, being present to others, can be a difficult thing. It can be irritating! Part of being present means really listening, not already planning an answer. In the journal Weavings (vol. 12, no. 5) Jan Johnson comments on a hard part of this: being present to enemies.

She says, “Being present to enemies—those who secretly wish we would drop dead, or at least move away—may be the most troubling. When people do obnoxious things to get attention, criticize in a public meeting, or interrupt throughout a telephone conversation, I have difficulty getting past their neediness. Why don’t they grow up? They cost us something—we feel our energy drain away. A part of us would like to pretend to pay attention, smile politely, and move on, but there’s that principle of being present to people.”

But when we dare to practice availability, there’s no telling what transformations will occur. It can be wondrous. It can be scary. We find out things about ourselves. Maybe that’s why we rarely practice it…at least, practice it wholeheartedly. There’s no limit to what can be when we make ourselves available. Are we willing to take the risk of being available: to the best within us, to our neighbors’ cry, to saying “no” to evil? Are we available to the wondrous things God can accomplish through us?

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