But I hope, despite the diming of my sight, that my “heart eyes” are getting sharper every day. To see the sadness in someone’s eyes … feel the discouragement or disappointment behind the smile … the hints of loneliness and emptiness beneath the surface.
A few years ago, Pope Francis suggested that instead of giving up chocolate for Lent, we instead give up our indifference to our neighbour. He believes there is a ‘globalisation of indifference’ … a worldwide tendency to be so preoccupied with life, so gobbled up with busyness, that we are missing the cry of the poor, the needy and the lost.
And what about our family, friends and work colleagues, the close to home people who we encounter everyday? Does familiarity or busyness blind us to the cry of their heart?
I suspect few of us are deliberately indifference to anyone; rather it’s a failure to notice the person and the pain in the first place.
How do we learn to weep with those who weep, to recognise the unspoken struggles that are slowly tearing someone apart? How do we meet that pain in a way that doesn’t try to 'fix it', but leaves the person with their dignity intact and their heart comforted?
My friend knows the art of being present, of lettering go of her own thoughts and concerns and focusing completely on what I am sharing with her. She let the full weight of what I was saying hit her and literally felt my pain.
In this hectic, busy-making-life-work world we seem to live in, I wonder if this ‘being there’ is the greatest gift we can give another person. Sometimes there aren’t any words and just sitting in silence is all we need, knowing someone cares enough to just be with us.
But often this can be the hardest gift of all. Silence can be threatening, scary, sometimes embarrassing or awkward. We can feel helpless. We want to escape from the uncomfortable or not go there in the first place.
When I feel like that I know it’s more about me … my own internal struggle to acknowledge that I can do nothing. The question is, can I move through my fear to just be there because the truth is, just being there is enough.