The Gift of Presence

“I have no profound pastoral words, but I have fish tacos,” I said to a few friends as we gathered in a park to be together after receiving some distressing news.

I have found myself, as one who keeps a pen and paper on me at all times, often wordless these days. So much death, sickness, injustice. I want to be a part of bringing healing, but words are not my only avenue for influence. Sometimes my calling is to just show up…and be.

As I drove up to LA to be with my friends, fish tacos in hand, I thought of Jesus eating fish on the beach with his disciples after they just experienced their worst nightmare (John 21:9). His most healing gift to them was his presence.

When I lived next to UCLA, every evening I would make the twenty minute hike up a hill from my apartment to the residence halls, not knowing who I would encounter or what I would say. I just knew I had to be there….physically. Ministry was all about showing up. It was about bringing my body into the room and looking for Jesus.

After a rich time of sharing in each other’s grief at the park the other day with my friends, I began to feel angry. The anger was saying, “you’re not being present to me!” I looked for someone to blame, but soon realized the accusation was directed towards myself. In the midst of caring for others, I too, needed attentive, loving, presence…from within. I took some time to offer that gift to my own body.

I will write more about how I did this in my next post.

Who in your life might need the gift of presence this week? How has the pandemic affected your ability to offer presence to others? What emotions does that evoke in you? What is your version of showing up with fish tacos?

*Fish tacos were from “El Taco Veloz” in Santa Ana. Highly recommend!

Published by K.Aalseth

Kelly J. Aalseth is the Coordinator for Leadership Development for InterVarsity in Greater Los Angeles. She is an author, coach, preacher, and trainer.

3 thoughts on “The Gift of Presence

  1. This is so wise, Kelly. Because His Spirit dwells in you, you are offering the presence of the eternal God to comfort, to heal, to bless by being present. Love you! Mary Jo


  2. I like what Mary Jo wrote… Yes, you’re offering the presence of the Lord… (I’m not such a writer) Blessings to you in this.. you are a real example to us …getting us to reflect and move ahead with this in our own lives.! Althea


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