The power of presence

Farmville Enterprise August 14, 2019

“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:1-5) When we or our friends are lowly in spirit, humble, gentle and not feeling self-sufficient but realizing we need help, we are in a better position for well-being in the Kingdom of God.

Those of us who grew up on Winnie the Pooh can remember a character who tends to be particularly lowly in spirit.  Eeyore, an old grey stuffed donkey, keeps losing his tail and his house of sticks falls down a lot. Despite a bleak outlook on life he is compassionate, willing to help his friends and grateful when they help him.

One of the best pictures of supporting someone who is lowly in spirit or mournful comes from the following short story often attributed to A.A. Milne but whose authorship is difficult to ascertain. It is a poignant reminder of how we should “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15) Sometimes this is best done without words but by sitting quietly with a friend.

“It occurred to Pooh and Piglet that they hadn’t heard from Eeyore for several days, so they put on their hats and coats and trotted across the Hundred Acre Wood to Eeyore’s stick house. Inside the house was Eeyore. ‘Hello Eeyore,’ said Pooh.
‘Hello Pooh. Hello Piglet,’ said Eeyore, in a Glum Sounding Voice.
‘We just thought we’d check in on you, ’said Piglet, ‘because we hadn’t heard from you, and so we wanted to know if you were okay.’
Eeyore was silent for a moment. ‘Am I okay?’ he asked, eventually. ‘Well, I don’t know, to be honest. Are any of us really okay? That’s what I ask myself. All I can tell you, Pooh and Piglet, is that right now I feel really rather Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. Which is why I haven’t bothered you. Because you wouldn’t want to waste your time hanging out with someone who is Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All, would you now.’
Pooh looked and Piglet, and Piglet looked at Pooh, and they both sat down, one on either side of Eeyore in his stick house.
Eeyore looked at them in surprise. ‘What are you doing?’
‘We’re sitting here with you,” said Pooh, ‘because we are your friends. And true friends don’t care if someone is feeling Sad, or Alone, or Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. True friends are there for you anyway. And so here we are.’
‘Oh,” said Eeyore. ‘Oh.’ And the three of them sat there in silence, and while Pooh and Piglet said nothing at all; somehow, almost imperceptibly, Eeyore started to feel a very tiny little bit better.
Because Pooh and Piglet were There. No more; no less.”

 

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