The Light of Barbara
Today my girls and I went to Westminister Manor, a retirement home in our neighborhood. We have been there several times now and some of the faces and people even feel familiar to us, but today we met Barbara for the first time.
We picked our crafts, sat next to her and introduced ourselves. She had a beautiful smile. In the first moments of our interaction Barbara seemed quite coherent, but slowly it was apparent that she was stumbling for words mid-sentence. More than words, she was stumbling through the train of her own thoughts and circling through similar questions a handful of times. I just sat next to her smiling in return, looking into her eyes and receiving her exactly as she was. Apart from her words or lack of them, I truly felt graced by her. I didn’t know her story, what brought her here, where her family was or if a partner had passed. Despite not knowing, there was the simplicity of connecting and offering a kind presence to another human being.
The morning made me think of how this capacity for uncomplicated presence escapes us so easily in some of our closest relationships. Our personal stories can come in the way whether it’s the dialogue of unmet needs or feeling like we are not enough or that perhaps we want something more. The stories vary and often point to things far more tender and vulnerable within. But if we stay only in the circle of our own story, it can prevent us from keeping our hearts open to those around us. The beauty of the time we spent with Barbara was that there was nothing personal in the way and it was deeply receptive, intimate and real.
Today I feel grateful for the uncomplicated and heartfelt connection my girls and I shared with Barbara. She was the perfect reminder of what it means to see and hear someone fully. Thank you, Barbara, for that and more.