“Today was a Difficult Day,” said Pooh.A. A. Milne
There was a pause.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Asked Piglet.
“No,” said Pooh after a bit. “No, I don’t think I do.”
“That’s okay,” said Piglet, and he came and sat beside his friend.
“What are you doing?” Asked Pooh.
“Nothing, really,” said Piglet. “Only, I know what Difficult Days are like. I quite often don’t feel like talking about it on my Difficult Days either.”
“But goodness,” continued Piglet, “Difficult Days are so much easier when you know you’ve got someone there for you. And I’ll always be here for you, Pooh.”
And as Pooh sat there, working through in his head his Difficult Day, while the solid, reliable Piglet sat next to him quietly, swinging his little legs…he thought that his best friend had never been more right.
I agree with Winnie the Pooh – Piglet was so right. To be present for another in the darkest moments of life is perhaps the greatest gift we could ever offer. It is certainly one of the most sacred gifts we could receive. Every time I sit and visit with a parishioner whether it be in my office, at the hospital, nursing home or their home, it is a privileged “gifted” time.
If we are honest with ourselves, as much as we might portray on social media and other means that our life is great, that each day is perfect and runs according to “plan,” many of us admittedly have difficult days. We might have had a difficult day at work, at home, with a co-worker, with our spouse or kids, with a fellow church parishioner, with a neighbor or friend. Maybe nothing went right that particular day. Maybe these just past holidays weren’t so jolly because of the absence of a loved one or friend. Winter in the northern hemisphere with weather teetering on cold, somewhat gray (although we have evaded the snow) can be a time many people experience depression, great anxiety and difficultly. We can have and do have difficult days.
I find that as a pastor when I get those incredible brief sacred moments of love and support I get to offer someone and there are no words, no real actions, no magic formula that I use with them- that’s a holy encounter with the Spirit. Simply said, it’s just the gift of presence. To sit with someone sobbing and hurting in grief is sacred. To listen to someone who is facing incurable illness or diagnosis is holy. To bring Holy Communion and prayer to someone at the hospital, nursing home or home is gift itself. Just showing up itself to be with another person is real gift, the presence of Christ, in our world.
It’s a matter of fact that every human being will experience “difficult days” and go through aging, sickness, loss of job, death and loss among other things. It’s part of our human condition. There’s a mysterious place called Octopus Springs in Yellowstone National Park. Octopus Springs is one of the unique places on Earth that’s labelled an “extreme environment.” For life to exist here it’s poised with “against all odds” defying challenges. The fact that life can even exist at all is nothing short of a miracle. But life does exist. Against all odds, it finds a way. So too for us against all odds in those difficult moments and days, we can find a way:
- Don’t resist “difficult days.” They will come and happen. It’s a reminder we do not have much control over external situations. Accept what you cannot change.
- Be open to helpers. Be open to the “Piglets” in your life- those who will simply come without judgment and sit with you in your difficult moment. It’s help from heaven.
- Rest. Relaxation is the best medicine for survival and helps quiet the energy of our minds. Jesus took time to rest to help him overcome difficult trying times.
- Have faith. Developing faith can help us cope with hard times. Faith is friendship with God. God never promised an easy life but rather promised to be with us always. Read the Bible. Journal. Talk to God. Find a welcoming worshiping community of faith that embraces you and feeds your soul.
- Change your perspective. You might not be able to change the difficult situation you find yourself in. But you certainly can change your perspective on it. Cultivate having a gratitude practice. Be thankful. Piglet didn’t try to change Winnie’s difficult day. He just reminded him he was with him through it all.
We all have difficult days. What if we could be the “Piglets” who simply sit with others having those challenging moments and days? Who has sat with you in your trying times? Maybe as we turn the page on a new calendar year, we can offer the best gift to each other of our time and presence. Difficult days are so much easier when you have someone there for you. For us people of faith, God walks with us. Receive this blessing: May God go before you to guide you; be behind you to encourage you; above you to watch over you and beneath you to support you. But may you discover the presence of God within you and know that God will always be your friend. God has our back, dear friends. Just don’t be afraid to simply sit and have the back of someone in need in your life. You’ll be giving the best gift ever.