companioning.

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It’s the idea of coming alongside someone in their journey. Dr. Alan Wolfelt refers to it as the practice of entering the wilderness of the soul with another human. The word literally refers to “with bread”… makes me think of the fellowship experienced when we sit down for a meal. Which seems rare these days, given the drive-thrus and coffees-to-go.

Years ago, when my friend Kevin and I would return to university after a weekend at our respective homes, we’d often be driving into the sunset. To help pass the time for the long drive, we came up with this game where one of us would start by pointing out the “land” in the clouds; we’d take turns pointing out the outline of the land and the water that suddenly seemed so real, highlighted by the sun’s rays and the cloud formations. The imaginative exercise of driving towards that faraway wilderness would take over serious conversation - or any conversation.

There’s something pretty sweet about keeping quiet company. And that quiet company can be a gift to someone who’s on a difficult journey.

The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed.... It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources.
— Parker Palmer

Here’s more from Palmer: The Gift of Presence, The Perils of Advice

And from Yahoo: Valuable gifts for a caregiver (that cannot be purchased)

from a twitter feed of a physician at Johns Hopkins hospital: I believe in you.

And this clever piece that takes the concept of companioning and adds a challenge: