I found this neat story from Winnie the Pooh that has been circulating the internet for a good while. I think it is an important reminder of what it means to care, to be a friend, and to spend time well with the people that we care about. Please take a moment to read it:
It occurred to Pooh and Piglet that they hadn’t heard from Eeyore for several days, so they put on their hats and coats and trotted across the Hundred Acre Wood to Eeyore’s stick house. Inside the house was Eeyore.
“Hello Eeyore,” said Pooh.
“Hello Pooh. Hello Piglet,” said Eeyore, in a glum sounding voice.
“We just thought we’d check in on you,” said Piglet, “because we hadn’t heard from you, and so we wanted to know if you were okay.”
Eeyore was silent for a moment. “Am I okay?” he asked, eventually. “Well, I don’t know, to be honest. Are any of us really okay? That’s what I ask myself. All I can tell you, Pooh and Piglet, is that right now I feel really rather sad, and alone, and not much fun to be around at all. Which is why I haven’t bothered you. Because you wouldn’t want to waste your time hanging out with someone who is sad, and alone, and not much fun to be around at all, would you now.”
Pooh looked and Piglet, and Piglet looked at Pooh, and they both sat down, one on either side of Eeyore in his stick house.
Eeyore looked at them in surprise. “What are you doing?”
“We’re sitting here with you,” said Pooh, “because we are your friends. And true friends don’t care if someone is feeling sad, or alone, or not much fun to be around at all. True friends are there for you anyway. And so here we are.”
“Oh,” said Eeyore. “Oh.” And the three of them sat there in silence, and while Pooh and Piglet said nothing at all; somehow, almost imperceptibly, Eeyore started to feel a very tiny little bit better.
Because Pooh and Piglet were there. No more; no less.
Around this time of the year, many people are feeling more depressed and anxious as the holidays are around the corner. Many struggled with being alone, especially those who do not have a family or a good relationship with their family. This is the time that many psychiatric facilities receive more patients as suicidal thoughts and tendencies become more prevalent. Therefore, it is important for us to remind ourselves of being mindful, aware, and learning to spend time with people well.
As post-modern people, we always seem to be busy and on the move. Even though we do “communicate” and “talk” via phone, text, or social media, we know that those “conversations” are not really conversational nor substantial. It is so easy for us to ask, “How are you doing?” and receive a similar response of, “I’m fine.” However, it takes time and an intentional desire to truly care and allow both sides to open up. If it is just a casual conversation, no one is going to be really honest because they are afraid of not having enough time to process or open up to the real, and oftentimes, hidden issues at hand. Therefore, do not just go through the motion of a casual exchange, but try to go deeper into the conversation by asking, “How are you really feeling?” or “From the scale from 1 to 10, please let me know how you feel!” Be aware and attentive to the person’s body language if possible, too! We talk much about ourselves, more than what words can describe at times if we just take the moment to be observant and attentive to one another’s holistic expression of ourselves.
Through the simple story from Winnie the Pooh, I hope we can know that we do not necessarily need words to be present at times when words cannot sufficiently express how we care for one another. As post-modern people, we are so scared of not being able to “solve” problems and feeling “useless” when there is something wrong. Yet, it is so important to remember that, most of the time, we are not called to fix things but to simply be present, to listen and be listened to. I believe the gift of time is so important, valuable, and sacred in this day and age, yet we are so poor and scared in giving it to one another! We are so scared of not being able to say something, fix something, or handle something that we basically avoid all the uncomfortable opportunities and occasions that could present themselves in life. We all end up talking about politics, ideologies, sports, abstract or unimportant stuff, and everything else in between except for what is truly important and from the heart. That is the reason why we have more arguments, resentment, bitterness, and anger from many different sources as well in daily interactions because we do not know how to care for one another. We have become too bogged down by unimportant stuff that we do not know how to be in the presence of one another well.
I also believe the many main problem with our world is that we have too many people who are trying to do too much. Yet, no one can agree because I think too many people are trying to push their political, ideological, or personal agendas upon others in order to pervade their ways of life or thinking, to make a name for themselves, or to be to doing something to be proud of; however, too many things remain self-centered — hence, selfish. I think many have good intentions, but I think many will fail because good intentions without proper, prayerful discernment, and filial obedience to the will of God will lead us to short-lived ventures or destructive tendencies. However, simple joy is important and being present to one another with a smile is contagious. I think our world would be much better if we can give and receive kindness and love genuinely, care for one another deeply, and give each other the true gift of ourselves with what we have — all with a smile — even if there are no sufficient words to explain why.
We have heard Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “Peace begins with a smile.” If we can smile and give one another the true gift of kindness from within, we would not worry about self-righteousness, pretentious, or self-centered motives. If we can genuinely smile at others, we cannot — in our right mind — hurt them. If we are motivated by kindness and care for others, we then do not have to be so uptight or worried about getting things our way. If we all recognize that God loves and takes delight in us, we should all work together so that He can be proud of our loving care for one another. If He is smiling at us, we should all personally and communally try our best to live and extend that smile toward others and among ourselves. Therefore, peace begins with a smile — not just any smile — an actual and heartfelt smile that comes from loving God and others. Therefore, let us try our best to share and live in peace with one another so that our Heavenly Father continues to smile upon us, we at one another as the Body of Christ, through the power and working of the loving Spirit of life. If we can truly understand, appreciate, and live that out, we will truly be able to understand the powerful reality that peace does begin with a smile, with the loving presence that is more powerful than words themselves.
I would like to, then, invite you to give the most important, personal, and intimate gift to one another by choosing to be present and allowing yourselves to care beyond what mere words, technologies, or modern communications can express. Do not be afraid to reach out to someone today and ask how they are doing, how we can pray for them, and actually lift them up in our prayers. Do not ignore or brush off the people who are close to you, even those who are hard to love at the moment, and choose the appropriate means to be present or express how you care for them. We are not alone nor meant to be alone! Therefore, let us be rich in giving the personal gift of time and the intimate present of presence that are so important, valuable, and sacred in this day and age.