Ministry Of Absence
I was meditating the other day and contemplating the thousands of folks in the cemeteries who lived and died without making any impression upon anybody. No one hated them and no one loved them. They are not missed because no one ever knew they existed. They touched no one's life in any memorable way. How sad.
There is such a wondrous power in the gift of human kindness. New life emerges in hearts longing for tenderness, compassion and understanding. When you reach out and lovingly touch someone, you infuse something priceless of yourself into the very soul and essence of another. When we touch others in empathetic, kind, gentle ways, we may be incognizant of the lasting impressions we are imprinting upon their mind screen with each word, hug, or glance. Yet, the power of your kindness will be warmly remembered long after you have departed the scene. There is something subtle, magnetic, redemptive that mysteriously transmit to others in a positive, healthy and permanent way. It is the ministry of absence; the most lasting and meaningful kind of ministry. The influence you make on the lives you touch continues to minister even when you are no longer physically present.
And, let me hasten to add that it does not have a lot to do with what you say. It has even less to do with what you do. But it is who you are when you are not saying anything or doing anything. It is who you are when no one is looking or listening. It is who you are as you go about the business of just living. No artificial device of the will of man, no trick, no ingenuity can produce a healing influence from a dissolute life. But for the life wrapped in the garment of love and human compassion, it is a certain atmosphere you generate and carry with you which somehow registers its impression upon other lives. During special moments of remembrance and intervals of recollection, you will miraculously reappear in the lives of those you have touched, even though you are absent.
It is the silent, holy, and powerful contagion of a Christian's life. You are present even when you are absent.
Rev. Saundra L. Washington, D.D., is an ordained clergywoman, social worker, and Founder of AMEN Ministries. http://www.clergyservices4u.org She is also the author of two coffee table books: Room Beneath the Snow: Poems that Preach and Negative Disturbances: Homilies that Teach. Her new book, Out of Deep Waters: A Grief Healing Workbook, will be available soon.
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