Paul passed away. I didn’t go to his funeral.
It would have been awkward.
You see, I never met Paul, never spoke to him. I only know him because he was a dear friend of my friend, Lisa. We had been praying for his healing for months. He had been doing well, and we didn’t see this coming. We were both devastated.
After he died, she told me, “We were part of this. This is what God let us see. We were witnesses.”
Witnesses. That word resonated with me.
To witness is to look upon, look into. It’s active, not passive, not a glance or a gaze, but really seeing. It’s focusing, paying attention.
A witness has a level of intimacy that a bystander or observer do not. A witness is an insider, privy to births and deaths, birthdays and anniversaries, to milestones great and small, public and private, mundane and quiet.
A witness in a trial testifies, under oath, that their part of the larger story is the truth as best they know it, as honestly as they can tell it. They express what they experienced--what they saw, what they heard. Nothing more. Nothing less. They don’t guess at anyone else’s part. If they do, it’s considered conjecture and dismissed. They can only relate the parts of the story they know to be true.
It takes courage to bear witness, to expose part of yourself to people who may not believe you belong in the story, or who wish you didn’t. They may not believe your part of the story. They may reject it, and possibly you. But no one can take away what you see, hear, or feel. They can’t tell you what you experienced. Your witness is your own, TO own.
Right here, right now, you are reading my words, and are therefore privy to my thoughts, beliefs, and life. We are connected.
You can choose to be a bystander in my story, an observer, or you can choose to bear witness. You can express what you experience, what you see and hear, in this small connection point in both of our lives.
Let’s not wait until a funeral to embrace it.
Creating Systems for Courageous Kindness
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