True Presence


“When it’s over, I want to say: All my life, I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”  - Mary Oliver

It’s easy to get so lost in the momentum of holiday activities and the seemingly endless to-do lists that we forget what the holidays are for. There is always more to do than there is time for, and probably never quite so acutely as during the holidays. Gift giving drives a lot of the frenzy and although we can point to all the cultural mania driving us to purchase our good holiday feelings, for many of us there is a legitimate desire to really give something that feels meaningful and is a true reflection of our love.

I have come to believe that the most potent gift we give to ourselves and anyone that we care for is our full attention. With our un-distracted mind and our listening ear, we have within us what we all want most, the gift of full presence. Offering this level of attention to our love and life is the truest and deepest transmission of love we can give and receive. We are transformed when held in the unwavering gaze of love.

Focusing our full attention is simultaneously an awakening and a relief. Suddenly you find yourself deeply at home even though you may not have realized you were lost. Often it is life traumas that take us by surprise and make us realize how much real connection is lost in the busy-ness of our days.  Ironically this becomes even more true at the holidays, when endless lists of what needs to get done double and time seems to be cut in half. The doing, buying, wrapping can easily feel devoid of meaning

One sure way to bring yourself into full presence and wake up from the haze of the endless doing is to acknowledge loss. Just for a moment, dare yourself to imagine all the people and comfort you take for granted in your life gone. Even a brief recognition of all that you have to lose, of the immense risk we all put our hearts into willingly for the sake of loving connection should be sufficient to bring you to the gift of true presence. Life details fall away and we are left holding onto the true weight of our intimacy and the pure emptiness that is held within it’s fullness.

Giving yourself or someone you love this gift of pure presence is the most amazing and life changing gift you can offer. Here’s the truth… it doesn’t work to repress our feelings. Our experience of life deserves to be witnessed and shared. All that is not given the air and space in the world around us will like any force of nature so transform and alter our internal landscape that we can’t find our presence- with ourselves and not with the people we long to love the most.

Eternity is not waiting to happen after you die, it is happening right now- and the meaning and love that you have the chance to make in your life is the only gift that will really count when your days are over. So instead of just exchanging physical gifts this holiday season- open your arms wide to the stories and feelings that make our presence real and our relationships sustainable.


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Elisa F.
Elisa F.1 years ago

Thanks for Sharing.

Aud Nordby
Aud nordby2 years ago


Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener3 years ago

Very true!

Lindsay Scarborough

take time to stop slow down and appreciate communication. thanks for bringing it to my attention again. with all the technology available today it seems to fall on the wayside more often.

Tom Medsker
Tom Medsker3 years ago

I find that it is easier for me to give my wife my full attention when the TV is turned off. And, "conversations" happen when 2 people are communicating. "Monologs" happen when one person is talking. Frequently my wife does a monologs (thinking she is having a conversation) about things which do not interest me. She knows I'm not listening but keeps talking anyway. There are many things I would like to tell my wife but once she begins one of her monologs, there is no place for me to interject a thought. It is very frustrating.

Lynn C.
Lynn c.3 years ago

This sings "truth" to me.

Mary B.
Mary B.3 years ago

True presence is our real identity. All the personality stuff is ego thinking it's viewpoints are its self.

Mary Brady
Mary Brady3 years ago

Very true, listening skills are needed and then comprehension. Acknowledgement of that person as whom they are is an amazing gift. Keep it going.

Kathy K.
Kathy K.3 years ago

Thanks for the reminder.

Gina P.
Gina P.3 years ago

What a wonderful quote! I needed the perspective of this article today. Thanks so much.