Spirit Play Reflection- Presence and Absence

Absence and Presence
Absence and Presence

For the first time this year I missed a scheduled Spirit Play class.  I traveled over the weekend to see family and wondered how class would go in my absence.  I felt very fortunate that a wonderful sub was found and felt a lot of gratitude that my spirit play friends were being held in the capable hands of others in our community.  And the last few weeks of holidays and breaks meant that I have been out of the classroom for several weeks in a row.  In our classroom I strive to connect with each person who comes, greeting them as they enter and engaging them in conversation.  The quality of my presence is very important to me.  During our peace greeting I try to make eye contact with each adult and child in our room.  I want them to know that I see their beauty, hear their needs and honor their wisdom.  What I am doing is trying to facilitate a relationship of love which, of course, doesn’t end when I leave the classroom.  If you see me in the parish hall on Sundays chances are you may miss me as I greet one of my spirit play friends down at their eye level.  This act of coming down to meet them, to listen to them and to hear them is beautiful.  The children light up.  An adult is interested in them.  They are seen and heard in a way that shows them that I have stopped my own agenda and am present to them where they are.  This fall our children had a few Sundays where they sold flowers and produce from our garden in the parish hall.  One young boy was standing just in the doorway directing the influx of people to the table with their garden stand ready.  I observed the adults as they walked right by without seeing him.  I observed the adults who looked at this boy and nodded their head without really listening and walked right by.  I did what I do with my young friends and knelt down to ask about the garden and the sale.  The animated and proud answers to my questions lit up both of our hearts.  It was a brief moment, but a moment of connection.  It makes me think about how I am present, crouching down to meet the eyes of a child, or how I’m absent, even when I’m right there, but too distracted to stop.  It also makes me wonder about how I interact with the other adults at church.  I try to be present too and listen to others, but I notice that I am sometimes absent when asked to give voice to my own heart.  It takes courage and vulnerability to engage in mutual presence.  It can take us to unexpected places when we choose to be present and give voice to what is true and real in us and allow another to witness our words and respond in kind.  This is the best of church, when we can choose to show up to each other in all the risk and delight that entails and listen each other into speech and love.

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