Angie Johnston

Living out Presence

How do you feel when someone gives their presence to you, especially if this presence is filled with curiosity and openness, and if this presence is without judgement, criticism or an agenda to somehow fix you and "make you better?” If you are like most people, this kind of presence will bestow on you a felt sense of being seen, heard, and valued, which leads to a greater sense of well-being and love.

When I experience or offer it, I can see it in someone's eyes; sometimes it’s expressed as disbelief, sometimes desperation, other times relief or surprise. But no matter the initial reaction, when a person receives another person’s unconditional presence, they feel loved. And when someone feels loved they stand up taller, walk with more purpose, and are affirmed in their existence as a valued human being.

Being with someone who gives you their presence, means feeling free to be yourself because you are accepted. Giving someone your presence communicates to them a strong "yes" to their self being good, no matter the situation, pain, or the personality they have.  

When this unconditional presence comes to us without judgement, it offers us truth.  It doesn’t say we are right or wrong, good, or bad, or that we need to become more of something or less of anything.  Instead, it unleashes the sense in us that who we are, in that moment, is simply enough. Our struggles, whatever they may be, our victories, whatever those may be, are real, and they are seen and heard. It is in these kinds of connections that people feel valued.

On a recent flight, I was talking with a flight attendant as we stood in the back of the plane.  She looked so young and so when I learned she was 61 I was legitimately in awe.  As we talked, I learned that she had just started her career as a flight attendant only 3 months earlier.  I found myself drawn into this woman’s story.

One question led to another which led to another; it was her openness to share, mixed with my honest awe and wonder at how she had been persevering through hardship and suffering, that allowed connection to happen.   While only a 10- or 15-minute conversation, I saw in her eyes the surprise that someone was interested, the relief that she was not judged, and even joy that her choices and life were held by another as courageous.

We parted, both full of goodness and hope. I, age 50, still had time and could make choices that could change my career or escape a destructive pattern.  Her, at age 61, showing up as indeed brave and alive; her life worth making hard decisions for, not doomed to settle for small, safe, and secure just because she was a woman, poor and had never been in the professional world. We were present with each other and something of our dignity unfolded right then and there.

ISY holds this value deeply.  At Te Veo House, we express this and take time to be with women right where they are. It is in our curious, non-judgmental presence that love is felt, and women experience a stronger sense of their self. You are invited to come be with the women of Te Veo House, as we want to be with you.  This is shared presence.

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