Today I am grateful for being invited into the lives of others, and I am grateful for the trust that is exhibited in the granting and receiving of these invitations.
This morning I got to sit with a good friend as she waited for her wife to complete some medical tests, the potential outcome of which was frightening for both of them to consider. All I did was sit with her, talk about goings on in our respective careers, talk honestly about some difficult situations that both of us are facing, and laugh about silly stuff. But somehow that seemed to be enough.
Last night I sat in on an AA meeting (as an observer for a class assignment) and was amazed at the warmth and openness that was shown in response to my presence. The participants revealed sobriety lengths that ranged from 39 years to 2 weeks. Yet all spoke openly and honestly about their struggles and seemed eager to have an "outsider" hear their stories. The women in particular seemed intent on holding my gaze as they spoke. As if to say, "we have a problem, but otherwise we're just like everybody else, there is no shame in being here." And that is so true. There is no shame in being there.
In fact, before the meeting I sat down next to one woman and introduced myself, telling her that I was a seminarian and that I would be working with people struggling with addictions during my chaplaincy internship this summer. She laughed nervously and said, "Oh, so you're not one of the sickies, like us!" My response was, "I don't know about that, we all have our own sicknesses to deal with."
And we all do.
Some of us are just better at hiding our sicknesses than others.
Some of us are less honest, or less secure, about talking about our sicknesses in public.
Some of us hope if we ignore our sickness long enough, it will just go away.
Some of us don't realize that the first step taken in healing a sickness is acknowledging that it is there.
In the past 24 hours, I've had the privilege of being invited into the company of some very healthy people. And I found their presence, and their words, to be very healing indeed.