The Passion & Holding Space

This week I sat across from my counselor, as I do every few weeks, and we talked about the concept of "holding space." This is what you do when someone is going through a loss. You don't spout off things that will make you feel more at ease with their situation. In those moments your job is simply to keep your mouth shut and be present. Your job is to share meals with them, to go for walks, to listen, and to shed tears. Eventually you'll speak again. Maybe you'll even give advice if you're asked for it, but at first your role is simply to "hold space" in time with that person.

I've been on both the giving and receiving end of these situations before.

I've stood by gravesides, hospital beds, held babies, and listened as friends have looked me in the eye, swallowed their fear, and shared some of their deepest secrets with me. I've held space with those people. I'm continually humbled that people would allow me to be present with them in such vulnerable moments. Though the situations themselves are often grave and painful, there's something about them that almost feels holy. They feel "other" and sacred. They're moments where you can do nothing else other than bear witness to them. 

I've been the other person. I've looked into the eyes of counselors and done all but get on my knees and beg them to help me get out of my issues. I've called friends on the phone crying when my depression has gotten the best of me and I just need to hear a voice and know that there is someone on the other end of the line. When my mother's condition began to decline, help came in the form casseroles and the building of a wheelchair ramp. It's the presence of others that has kept me sane and whole. 

As Holy Week began a little less than a week ago, I had a sneaking suspicion that this one would be a little emotional. I feel as though God has been reminding me recently "Lindsey, you know that resurrection doesn't happen unless there's death first, right?" I'd rather ignore death altogether and get right to the resurrection life, restoration, and wholeness. 

As Thursday rolled around I attended my first ever Maundy Thursday service. After we had read the scripture passages and taken communion, the lights in the room went out, we stripped the altar, and left in silence. No hugging. No "see you later." Just silence. 

Normally I would have checked my phone for notifications, scrolled through facebook, and turned on some music right before driving away, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I needed to be silent.

I had planned to go for a run at the beach following the service, so I threw my phone in my bag, zipped it up, put my car in drive, and headed for the beach. Someone cut me off in traffic on the way there. I even went to open my mouth to cuss, but no words came out. Rarely do I ever go for a run without music blasting in my ears. Tonight was different. I ran to the tune of the trees rustling in the breeze and the waters crashing on the shore. 

As I was running, for the first time in a while I reflected on Christ's death. It was quiet enough at that time of night that I could hear the sound of my feet hitting the pavement. I envisioned nails being beaten through the wrists of and feet of Perfect Love incarnate. As I listened to the sound of my own labored breathing, I thought about the suffocating Son of God hanging on a tree. 

I felt the need to say a prayer of thanksgiving, but words wouldn't come out.

So I held space. 

I know how the story ends, but I can't seem to feel it yet. 

So for now I'm holding space with Jesus. 

LGH