Abide with me

Last week I had a line of a hymn in my head: let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

Today the hymn fragment that is caught in my head is: abide with me. I think this phrase lodged in my head several days ago when I bought Elizabeth Strout’s book of the same name, after being so impressed with Olive Kitteridge that I wanted to read more. But it keeps coming back, humming its short descant in my brain.

So I guess I should listen. My friend whose due date approaches wrote to me, in response to my post to her, If there is only one thing about mothering, about loving, period, it’s that we face things with each other. We can’t fix things or stave off loss or change people, but we can face things together. In classic fashion she spoke clearly something I’ve been thinking fuzzily. And this seems to me another meaning of abide with me.

Isn’t this – this abiding with one another – one way we make our love and affection manifest? It seems another way to talk about “holding space,” a wonderful expression that I learned from Nancy Jane Smith at Live Happier. Holding space – abiding with someone – seems as simple and as challenging as just being with that person.

Just being – ourselves, with someone else, aware – is no small feat for most of us. Being present to someone else with our conscious self. Bearing witness to someone else without judgment. Listening to someone else without agenda. This is a true gift. And I know I’m not great at it. Which is no doubt why the universe has planted this reminder in my head. I’m listening.


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4 Comments

  1. Ambrosia
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Your words have uncovered a wealth of questions. I will need time to digest their meaning in my life. Thank you for your wisdom.

  2. wholly jeanne
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    bearing witness. listening. without judgment. without personal agenda . . . these are gifts i thanked a friend for this very morning. thanks for doing your part to make this type of gift not such a rare thing.

  3. Nancy Jane Smith, MSEd, PC
    Posted December 14, 2009 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the shout out. I love this post–the phrase 'abide with' is so wonderful. Listening without an agenda! Such a gift and such a challenge. Thanks for the wise post.

  4. Margaret
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I see this is an old post (referred to in your post of yesterday), but I had to comment. As usual, beautiful. Abide with me (the hymn) also swirls in my head often. This is a favorite in my family and was sung at both my maternal grandfather’s and grandmother’s services. I loved and adored them both and miss them daily. My grandfather, in fact (the one who went to Exeter and Princeton!) died, with my aunt and grandmother by his side, while the Minister was singing this hymn to him. It was during the singing that he passed away, peacefully. Gives me chills and my eyes brim with tears every time I think about it…Again, thank you for the important reminders and wisdom.