The Art of Presence is a fantastic piece by David Brooks. Brooks compiles the collective wisdom of a family that has suffered great trauma. He summarizes their thoughts on how those of us outside the zone of a traumatic situation can reach those within. In summary, he writes–
I’d say that what these experiences call for is a sort of passive activism. We have a tendency, especially in an achievement-oriented culture, to want to solve problems and repair brokenness — to propose, plan, fix, interpret, explain and solve. But what seems to be needed here is the art of presence — to perform tasks without trying to control or alter the elemental situation. Allow nature to take its course. Grant the sufferers the dignity of their own process. Let them define meaning. Sit simply through moments of pain and uncomfortable darkness. Be practical, mundane, simple and direct.
I am most thankful for the people in my life who practiced the art of presence when I grieved for my daughter. Do take the time to read this piece. It isn’t long, but it is excellent.