David Brooks on The Art of Presence

David Brooks of The New York Times writes about the Woodiwiss family, who’ve experienced almost unbearable trauma over their two daughters’ tragedies. The Woodiwiss’ wrote a blog piece setting out how to better help those suffering tragedy and trauma. Brooks recounts raw lessons they’ve learned—and are learning—in an article titled “The Art of Presence,” which ought to be required reading especially for pastors, but also for all Christians seeking to help others amid gut-wrenching trauma. Brooks writes:

Ashley [the mother] also warned against those who would overinterpret, and try to make sense of the inexplicable. Even devout Christians, as the Woodiwisses are, should worry about taking theology beyond its limits. Theology is a grounding in ultimate hope, not a formula book to explain away each individual event.

Brooks shares six lessons gleaned from the Woodiwiss’ on cultivating the art of presence:

  1. Be there
  2. Don’t compare, ever
  3. Bring soup
  4. Don’t say “you’ll get over it”
  5. Be a builder
  6. Don’t say “it’s all for the best” or try to make sense out of what happened

Read Brooks’ article “The Art of Presence” here.