Just Be Present

Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

Back in the day, the expression was something like “prove you’re a man by having sons.” Today it has been somewhat distorted and now reads “prove you’re a man by having guns.”  Saturday night someone was shot in the head and died on a street corner about two blocks over from the Peace Center. Information from news sources was sketchy with nothing other than the time and location and the fact that the victim was a man.

On Sunday morning, I  took a walk to the corner just to say a prayer. Most folks I met were Sunday subdued, not scared subdued. I learned that no one knew the victim, and most had seen nothing. I spoke with the woman who had made the 911 call to tell the police there was a body on the sidewalk, but she knew nothing else.

Turns out those involved were not from the neighborhood or even Orleans parish, so  no one was sure what had precipitated the shooting. Why they came to our neighborhood was unclear; people here were talking in quiet circles and hoping for the best. Most of them just seemed resigned to the idea that violence is part of life, no matter where one lives.

I realized the importance of the ministry of presence in a way I had not before this day. Just to say, “I am going to say a prayer” helps people to take a breath and think about peace before they jump into vengeance. Holding someone’s hand or asking a question that allows them to tell you their story are simple things that are much needed.

In your world, where have there been opportunities to be present in simple ways? Did you miss any? Don’t worry, there will be lots more.

Posted in Weekly Word

10 responses to “Just Be Present

  1. Thanks Sr. Pat, for reminding all of us to take a “time out” and reflect on our commitment to our faith and the community around us.

    Al Whatmough
    MBA Student
    Ohio Dominican University

  2. Thank you for this wonderful reflection! God has a way of putting His presence in our lives – and you are a part of that.

  3. Thanks, Pat, I always enjoy your reflections. Our presence is such a gift in so many ways. Thanks.


  4. Thanks for sharing, Pat. What you recounted is so familiar on the reservation here. Being “presence” is sometimes the only but best gift to share.

  5. Pat, First off, thank you for your reflection. It timed in with my so called retirement ministry here where I live. I find myself repeatedly drawn into unexpected encounters that lead me to appreciate the reflection that “Coincidence is God’s way of staying anonymous” so to give me a chance to be “His operating presence in this world” (R. Rohr and Sr. Pat Twohill!) It also makes me question the fact of my retirement!!

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