Wasting time?

The latest photo-Tweet from my friend Joyce lives up to its caption.

The quotation from Maya Angelou speaks of how we remember people for the way they make us feel.We all have people we turn to when we need a shoulder to cry on, an ear that will listen or someone who can hug us. Hopefully, we are such a person for others. In this case, the lovely little Robin makes me feel happy. This little creature is uplifting and in giving pleasure expects nothing in return.

It reminded me of story by Sheila Cassidy in her book Good Friday People.

Sheila writes on aspects of Christian spirituality and is also a doctor. She was involved in the hospice movement. In the 1970’s she was practicing medicine in Chile at a time of political unrest. Because she treated a leading figure of the opposition, she was arrested and tortured. As a result of her imprisonment she was keenly associated with Human rights and prevention of abuse.

The story which came to mind on receiving Joyce’s tweet is from when she was being a doctor in more calmer times. In her book Good Friday People  she wrote of a seemingly insignificant incident but it had huge implications.
One day she was working on a boring job and a friend popped in to see her. This is how she described it.

He loitered around for nearly an hour, perched on the edge of the table, smoking a cigarette and talking occasionally of nothing in particular. After he left, she found herself filled with a special joy because her friend had deliberately wasted an hour  with her. She wrote that “we were not discussing something of importance or that I needed consoling; it was a pure and unsolicited gift of time.

She reflected that if we think about it, for busy people, time is often the most precious gift they have to give. Doctors, priests, those who counsel will always ‘spend’ time with those in need. They may sit up all night with someone who is distressed; they may pass long hours in listening to problems or giving advice; but it is all time deliberately spent.

People who spend or waste time in this sort of way are those who understand the difference between what is urgent and what is important, or, to put it another way, they understand something that is key to our relationships– that real busyness is about being busy for others rather than being so busy that we shut them out.
Having time for others is, as Sheila Cassidy noted, among the most precious things we can give to them.
It is particularly important in this day of instant communication and of a real sense of loneliness in a lot of people to make people feel they matter.
I don’t know about you but when I’m talking with someone and their mobile phone rings and they immediately answer it, I feel my importance to them has been somehow diminished.

Our little Robin above reminded me that I need to be attentive to others in a very special way which shows them they matter – a lot!
We could even turn our phone off whilst spending time with them.
Now there’s a notion!!

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