Just Be There

I was cruising The Toronto Star newspaper tonight when I came upon an article about a dad and his adult daughter. They had agreed to make a cake together for her young godson. Dad was pooped and wanted to order from a bakery. She persisted and he got to learn a little more about life:

My baby girl has grown into a generous, tolerant, openminded young woman. I swallow my pride and head to the kitchen to make the cake but little do I know that the lesson is not over. “Dad, I don’t want you to make the cake. I just want you to be there.” Who is the parent now?

It’s so tough sometimes to BE THERE. It’s so easy to forget that sometimes just sitting down at the end of the kitchen island is what they need and want.

I like to think that I often have cool things to say, in voice or in print. Many a time my generosity flows out. And the moments of eye contact that I share can touch people.

There are also the other times, when I’m so tired in the body, so distracted in the mind, so wounded in the soul. It feels like I have nothing to give … but that’s not accurate. I can offer my physical proximity to human beings, especially the hurting ones. Here are some places where I can plunk myself down:

1. The Grade 6 class of twenty-six kids and one adult. I volunteer there.

2. The Belmont Diner – at the horseshoe-shaped lunch counter or at the table for six to the left of the front door. I often eat breakfast there.

3. The home that is the home of Acoustic Spotlight house concerts every Wednesday evening. I listen to folk music there.

4. The group internet calls of the Evolutionary Collective. I’m there about five times a week.

5. Times when I sit with one other person, in my home or out for lunch. My presence is a gift to them as theirs is to me.

Lots to give
Apparently little to give
They’re neighbours, you know

Together

It was towards the end of French class this morning.  Many kids had completed the assignment and free time beckoned.  A girl came up to me and suggested that I start up Duolingo, the French app on my phone which is helping me prepare for Senegal, where I’ll be with children who only speak French.  Duolingo is très cool, announcing my successes with a little trumpet blast.

I sat on the edge of a table with a girl on each side.  They often chimed in with the correct answer to a question, and sometimes pressed the screen to make my word choices for me.  A little bit of me thought “Wait a minute.  It’s my app. I’m the one who has to learn this stuff.”  But that melted away like the first snowfall of the season.

The three of us were together.  It didn’t really matter what the topic was – studying French would do nicely.  Beyond the task, we were simply having fun, and enjoying each other’s presence.  Other than a few comments about the French terms, not a word was spoken.  Words weren’t needed.

The girls were eleven.  I’m sixty-nine.  No problem.  Just human beings wanting to share a few moments with other human beings.