In this second video of the Faithful Presence series (see the first post here), Dave talks about what it looks like to practice faithful presence.
“Tending to God’s presence means I am casting my sights on the person across from me.”
Before meeting with someone, he takes a moment to breathe what he calls the Epiclesis. Formally part of the Eucharistic prayer where a priest invites the Holy Spirit to be present in the elements, Fitch incorporates the following invocation into his daily encounters: “Lord be present here, Lord be present, help me tend to your presence in this person.” The simplicity of this prayer is striking. It makes the practice of faithful presence manageable even in the midst of a busy life and schedule. Who of us – even if interrupted or caught up in an unanticipated conversation – doesn’t have a moment to take a breath and invoke God’s presence?
Describing an interaction with someone who he calls “George,” who regularly expanded upon conspiracy theories, Fitch describes how a moment of intentionality opened up their relationship for mutual transformation. It all began with invoking God’s presence and asking “What’s going on in your life?” George began to work through reconciliation in his relationships, and Dave did too.
“A whole world was opened up because I was able to look at him as someone whose God’s presence was at work in, and we discipled each other as a result of it.”
These principles apply to any relational encounter, whether it is with a colleague, an employee, a person we meet on the street, a friend, a spouse, etc. In working with people with significant intellectual or developmental disabilities, recognizing that God is at work in each person’s life and can use every encounter for mutual transformation becomes that much more important. Too often people with intellectual disabilities or who use alternate means of communication are overlooked as agents of God’s grace in the world.
Dave speaks to this point,
“People with various disabilities are those who are immensely gifted, obviously, to see things and do things that maybe I can’t see. But the bottom line is that I am able to see God’s presence at work in them… and then they’re able to engage me and a space is opened up, a very unique space. And this is the way that God has created the world, for us to be in these social spaces of transformation.”
So often, we enter into conversations hoping to change the other person. Yet often the work that God is looking to do is in our own lives. Encountering others in a space of peace, a space of mutual transformation, opens us up not only to God’s presence but to the powerful work that – just maybe – He is looking to do in our lives and in the world around us.
Questions to consider:
- Who are the people I regularly interact with?
- How do I intentionally look for God’s presence in these encounters?
- What are the places that I regularly inhabit or access?
- How might I be more intentional in anticipating God’s work in these spaces?