What happens when we take a risk and share something vulnerable with another person? Oftentimes a sacred encounter occurs. I have experienced this sacredness many times over the decades. Whether the conversation happens one-on-one or in a small group. the honesty and beauty of the story is long remembered.
Even before I became sick, I had conversations with people that were intense and honest. I was involved with ministries that required me to develop strong listening skills–healing ministry, prison ministry and spiritual direction. I often walked away from those times of ministry sensing I had encountered the Divine. I have also been blessed with friends who open up to me and who receive my stories well. Somewhere I learned to be vulnerable and because of that my circle of close friends is quite large.
I have continued to have conversations with the inmate at prison when I visit. He is opening up lots. When I first started the lifers would often let one another rotate among themselves to talk with me. Those conversations were revealing and helped me to understand what some people went through in life. The brokenness is sometimes hard to heal. I learned not to judge harshly. We never know what people have survived. Some hold their stories close without ever sharing. My observation is that creates a lack of trust and healing never really happens for these folks as fear holds them back from fully living.
Currently I am grateful for those who walk the path of reality with me. There are no words sometimes. Stories do not need to be made up of verbal speech. There can be tears and silence. I find it hard to accept all the accolades that are bestowed upon me but I can also tell when my life choices do affect people profoundly. These are the life-giving people who accompany me as I feel my energy ebbing away from my body. They are the ones I want around me in my final days to give life as life leaves my body. To make my end days sacred. The ones who know me and I them because we have shared life journeys.
My agenda book is dotted with visitors. I need to find a balance of my physical and social needs. Messages, texts, cards, and emails from faraway people I will not see bring me joy. Sometimes I initiate these and am blessed in receiving a response. I value the remember when stories. Often a visit or piece of correspondence spark these for me. It is as if I load up the VCR and watch an old movie. A smile forms and I appreciate anew the relationship I have had with a particular person.
Some days I feel overwhelmed by the number of people who I want to see or who want to see me. Despite it all I feel blessed to have not stayed safely in my shy, introverted space. I have allowed myself to be vulnerable and I have gained rich treasures in relationships that sustain me now. What a joy!