I keep posted in my office a note from my husband that includes two phrases: “It’s not about you. Accompany them.”
I first discovered this note a few months back taped to my computer screen minutes before I began facilitating a virtual retreat. These six words nestled in a note of love and encouragement reminded me then and remind me now of the posture I am invited to hold, the posture of accompaniment. That is the posture of coming alongside someone. It feels like a shoulder-to-shoulder stance of walking together for a little while. It is the posture Jesus models for us throughout the Gospels, such as when he comes alongside the man who was blind on the road to Jericho, the woman crippled for 18 years, or the woman suffering with hemorrhages. We see in his model how important it is to pause, to notice the other person, and to receive with love that person’s story. In this accompanied space between Jesus and the person, a life-changing encounter happens. Jesus’ accompaniment makes the invisible God visible to those he meets.
We are invited to accompany others as Jesus did. We, too, are invited to come alongside people, whether that is in some sort of formal ministry or in the everyday roles of our lives. We are invited to pause, to notice the person before us, and simply to receive that person’s story. Our hopes in accompanying are that it fosters an encounter with Christ through the space we hold for another and that it is a witness of God at work in the world.
My husband’s note reminds me of the posture of accompaniment before I give a retreat. His words remind me that my call is about inviting retreatants to encounter Christ through me and in the spaces created to be with Christ in prayer, in silence, in community, and in each other. My husband’s words, though, invite me to hold this posture of accompaniment not only when I am in ministry mode, but in the many other roles I have in life: wife, mother, friend, colleague, daughter, granddaughter, and even the role of stranger encountering a stranger.
May we all savor my husband’s words of invitation in those we encounter each day as we pray: Lord, help me remember it is not about me. Help me simply accompany others in the walk closer to you.
Thank you! I recognize the way my Episcopal priest understands his work. Your words also remind me that my paintings can be spiritual companions, listening to the viewer, not telling a message or pressuring the person to “see this.” And the work is certainly not about me!
Well written. Thanks Becky. The act of accompanying is healing and empowering. Keeping it simple is the way forward.
Thank you, Becky, your words always inspire me. EASTER BLESSINGS to you and yours!
I especially love this wise and wonderful reflection, Becky – and instantly wrote Chris’s words on a 3 X 5 card for an important perspective/reminder in front of me.
Thank you Becky, that can be one of the hardest things to remember when I’m in a position of responsibility 😊
Well Dear Becky, you have done it AGAIN! Just getting better and better. Thank you And God bless you & your husband also. I am an old lady now and can’t do a lot or just about anything ;except to pray and send friends Lovely or crazy emails to keep in touch , so they know (I Hope) that i still care about them. I used to be such a busy person and involved in so many things , some where I hope I made a difference, so my dear keep up the wonderful things you are doing, while you still can . God must be very pleased with you. A.M.D.G
Talk about meeting me where I am at this morning – wow! Thank you Becky, and please thank your husband from me as well. Last night PBS had a special on Fred Rogers, and I cannot shake from my brain the picture of Mr. Rogers simply looking at the faces of Jeffrey in the wheelchair, the very young boy playing something extraordinary on the piano, the teen violinist, but also Mr. Rogers, looking at Officer Clemmons as they bathed their feet in a kiddie pool — and as Fred Rogers then dried Officer Clemmons’ feet. I love how Jesus inspiring, informing, teaching me through Fred Rogers and your words today makes it all the more tangible for me.