The Gift of Presence…

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”        ~Mark 14:32-34

Some thoughts:

1. Jesus knew he was about to die…

2. Jesus asked his closest companions to “keep watch with [him]”…

a. Jesus was not asking them to be his bodyguards, to protect him…

b. He did not want them to watch so they could warn him to make an escape…

c. It seems Jesus only wanted his companions to be “present” with him…

What did their “presence” give to Jesus?  Why did he want or need it?  Perhaps an aspect of his humanity is showing itself as he faces the death he knows is coming…

What does our “presence” give to those with whom we wait and watch?

A seventeen year old, wanting his mother’s “presence” as the time of his death approaches says, “Mom, I know I’m dying.  Just wait with me.”   And then over the next few days, he gradually slips into a coma…  but there are family members and friends near… waiting.

How many others want the presence of someone else with them as their time of death draws near?  What does the presence of other people bring or give to those who know they are dying?  And how hard it must be to be that other person, that witness, who can do nothing to stop the inevitable…  Who can only wait and watch, with no power to change the coming events.

Why is this important for the one dying?  Maybe because the one dying knows that he or she does not face death alone if someone else is waiting and watching with them… The dying walk through death’s door, letting go of one hand to reach out and grasp another…  Love takes them to the door, gives them strength as they pass through it, and meets them again on the other side…

The night before he dies, the seventeen year old briefly wakes from his coma…  Family and friends are gathered around.  Perhaps for him it is one last time that he can look on those he loves and see that they love him.  He slips back into his coma, continuing his journey…  knowing he is not alone.

His younger sister is asked if she wants to sleep in his room, with him, that night.  She says yes, and so a cot is set up.  That night, as she sleeps, she is given the privilege of being the one who is “present” with her brother…  But she does not know this…  She only knows that she is receiving the gift of his presence with her, a presence that she knows she is losing to death…

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5 thoughts on “The Gift of Presence…”

  1. Powerful words, Jonelle. The power of having another human being present, no matter what tough or challenging situations we may be going through, is unquestionable. There is just something about having somebody there with us who to simply provide moral support, love, and possibly even words of wisdom if needed. But much of the time no words are necessary, just the presence of another soul.

    1. Steve, I actually wrote this last year for a class I was taking… I was reflecting on true events from years ago… you knew the seventeen year old I was speaking of… and you know his little sister…

  2. Jonelle, when I read this today, I wondered if that was who you meant. That was the first thing that crossed my mind and realized what an impact that experience had on the little sister.

  3. I also remember being the one present (although not at the point of moving from this life to eternal life) with a close friend of mine as she began her walk the final days not quite a year ago. While it was emotionally difficult to “let go”, it was a great privilege to have that time with her and her family.

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