Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Gift Of Being Present

Have you ever met someone in your life that left such an impression on you that you will never forget them?  I have met several in my life but the one that comes to mind this morning while watching everyone running around, stressing out, and worrying about one day - one holiday that is supposed to be about light, love and hope is a wonderful lady named Shirley Michaelson.  You see, she had a gift that few people I know have.  She had the gift of making you feel like you were the most important person in her life while she was with you.  What made it even more special, is that I met her when we did a bid on a kitchen remodel in her condo.  I can honestly say that she was the only customer that I ever had that treated me with such love, care and above all, respect.  She genuinely cared about people and gave them her undivided attention while they were in her presence no matter what else was going on in her life.  She had the gift of being Present.

Shirley was the embodiment of not just the word compassion but of being compassion.  I learned from her that to live in the present moment and to have compassion for another is a way of life, a way of being in the world that offers comfort to whom ever is in your presence.  How much of the time are we somewhere else?  We are thinking of something that happened yesterday or two hours ago or anticipating what we have to do next or the rest of the day, week, month.....but we are not there.

Shirley helped to start the adult education program at our community college, she also started the displaced homemakers program to help women get back into the work force.  She also had a serious battle of her own with extreme Diabetes.  She never complained.  Even after a fall that injured her shoulder that made it so she couldn't lift her arm above her waist.  She went to Seattle for corrective surgery after nearly 2 years.  She finally said that if they didn't finally get it fixed, she just might have to get angry.  The gift of patience and grace.

Shirley died a few years later but left such a lasting legacy to all who ever came into contact with her.  The legacy that we can all aspire to give to each other.

So my wish for everyone as we enter the notorious 2012 year is that we all have the gift of being fully present.  That we can actually BE with those we are with instead of running around to the buzz in our heads.  So we can honestly say, "Yes, I can hear you."  and those in our presence will know without a doubt that yes, "I can see you."  Let us become compassion and not just throw a quarter in a kettle (although that is important too) and consider our work finished.

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