It seems like it’s raining no where you happen to be in the World and even if the sun is shining, it’s a kind of rain that produces no rainbow, at least none with any ohhhh/ahhhhh breath-taking-stop-your-car-on-the-side-of-the-highway-take-a-bad-picture-kind-of-a-Rainbow; and at best if there’s anything good that can come from this kind of rain is someone willing to share their umbrella to hold space, to provide a protected presence that’s not so willingly given and even harder, at times, to accept.
Yeah, that kind of presence
For the past couple of years, one of the most requested presentations I do is called, HOLDING SPACE–WALKING EACH OTHER HOME, and like any of the presentations I’ve ever done, though done dozens of times, not one has ever been done the same way, twice. . .on purpose. That’s why I never PowerPoint or do hand-outs because even in the middle of a presentation I might tell a story, share a poem, provide an intervention that I haven’t done in previous presentations or may be in any future one to come.
And that’s how it was last night for the HOLDING SPACE presentation where not only CEU’s were provided for nurses and social workers, but oh yes, dinner was served with unlimited amounts of wine. I couldn’t resist encouraging the group that they more they drank, the better I would sound and then, the magic took place. I talked, and they did more than simply listen; THEY HELD MY SPACE, which I highly complemented them because the greatest presentation, I’ve always believed and strived to achieve, is not the one that’s told or heard, but the one that’s experienced.
Out of the new differences I added to this presentation was the following poem by Ellen Bass
IF YOU KNEW
What if you knew you’d be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line’s crease.
When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn’t signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won’t say Thank you, I don’t remember
they’re going to die.
A friend told me she’d been with her aunt.
They’d just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt’s powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.
How close does the dragon’s spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?
Just a few months ago when I was the last speaker at a workshop, I literally wrote the following poem, waiting for my turn to present the HOLDING SPACE talk. . .uh, yeah, I added it that talk and last night’s one as well:
and I’ve lost a lot of my pieces
I don’t exactly remember when I
Humpty-Dumptied if off the wall
No recollection of all the Kings men
and all of the horses they rode in on
But I know. . .ohhh how I know
How I’ve not been put back together again
and when you dare to
provide protective presence
and choose to hold me
It’s not so much of an Embrace
as a specific piece that never existed
You’ve brought to me
A wholeness I’ve not known
but now never want to forget
or ever want to be without
Y O U