Being there

Cover of "Being There (Deluxe Edition)"
Being There

I had a meeting last Friday arvo from 3pm and when I got back to my desk at 4pm, I couldn’t believe what I saw on the screen – England had crumbled and had lost something like 6 wickets for 9 runs. After checking I had no urgent calls or emails to respond to, I quickly went to the tea room and joined a few other blokes who have been watching the game.

The day ended with Australia well on top so the unpleasant scenes of Australia’s first innings were well and truly erased.

As usual, I was very tired on Friday night and when we met up for dinner at the Enrik café with Jason and Mel, I was just happy to be in a busy but pleasant restaurant so close to home with Tress and some very dear friends. Dinner was very good and we just stayed on and chatted for a bit before leaving.

It was raining on Sat – the weekend forecast had been a wet one – so I couldn’t work on the garden. After the usual dry cleaning run, I said to Tress the wet morning would mean less congestion at the new fruit and veg market on Canterbury Road at Forest Hill (Strawberry Point) so we quickly went over and got our green grocery for the week, and then we drove to Mount Waverley and met Simon, Tress’ hairdresser. A hair cut had been long overdue for me and much as I was sure Simon had barely woken up when he worked on my mop top, I was glad I had it done.

After lunch (at Madam Kwong’s Kitchen of course) and a quick visit to a property auction, we (or I) spent the rest of the arvo just vegging out in front of the telly, watching the cricket. My right Achilles had caused me grief anyway so it was a perfect excuse to just spend a cool and wet Sat arvo doing nothing except watch Michael Clarke and David Warner chalk up satisfying tons.

The rain continued pouring on Sunday. There was an AGM after the service and Tress and I decided to stay for that meeting, to get a soak in of some of the issues the church had faced in the past year. It ended close to 2pm. We went to Madam Kwong’s Kitchen again after that and since it continued to pour, we just decided to go to a shopping place and walked around.

The service was a thanksgiving one and numerous people publicly gave thanks for a whole range of matters. A familiar pattern emerged very quickly – that of life’s many challenges. Often, these challenges require solutions. A way forward to resolve the matter at hand would always bring relief and pave a way towards a brighter future.

What’s become crystal clear however is that other than solution or a way forward, often those facing life’s challenges just need someone at their side. This person need not have any answers – just being there to provide support and perhaps add strength, clarity of mind to deal with the issues or challengers and the assurance that no matter what happens, there is someone who would be there for them. That someone would certainly help countervail any tendency to over-internalise the challenges one faces.

Facing challenges is probably another one of life’s certainty. In recent weeks, we have seen a cancer patient succeeding, heard about another patient failing, seen a young man battling depression, been with a couple who lost their first born infant child, and been touched by other departures of others who have spent considerably more years.

In all of these experiences, the presence of another as they navigate their paths in dealing with the challenges, has always been what’s deeply treasured. Being there for someone matters. Praying for someone is often a throwaway line used in such circumstances and prayers may or may not happen. The Lord may or may not intervene. But as members of the community we find ourselves in, being there for one who is faced with these challenges, is often what we can and ought to do. Sometimes, like Peter Sellers, “Being there” is what matters. I need to think about responding to this more meaningfully.