There is within each of us a longing to be witnessed. Therefore we all have a responsibility to bear witness to others, to share our stories, let one another know we are not alone. When we share we create safety. We create belonging. We give permission to be who each of us needs to be. – Heather Plett
aren’t there moments
that are better than knowing something,
and sweeter? – Mary Oliver in ‘Snowy Night.’
How often do we experience the sensation of being truly witnessed by another human being? In such a conscious way that we know, deep inside, that something fundamental has changed us, changed inside us, both powerfully and irrevocably?
This is the question posed to our writing group last week as a starting point for thinking about and discussing ways we bear witness to one another on a daily basis; and how we acknowledge those rarer moments of profound witness. In a few minutes of pen-to-paper free writing, the following words emerged and found shape from the practiced hands of one of our longer-term writers. Can you relate to her expressed experience of being stripped bare and truly known deep inside?
Very few times in my life have I been stripped of my hard exterior, allowed hands on the soft underbelly of my human experience. My thoughts. And along with that, my emotions. You could take me down to bare bone, and watch the years erase any trace of my existence. You would have seen everything I am made of. Every molecule. Every single cell. Though all of that vision, you have never witnessed the thriving vibrancy, the energy circulating just under the surface.
I remain steadfast in knowing that few have seen me. There comes this understanding in the discovery that another hand has reached into your soul and drawn out something great. This is a hard question to answer because when I felt those hands, gripping my heart, everything changed. Became different. There came a sense of serenity in the idea that I was not a secret. That someone else was now a part of this vivid dream.
The capacity of the mind is enormous and the infinite trails of thoughts send one reeling. The weight my mind can carry far exceeds that of my physical body. When I feel that reach into the far corners of my mind, it is with complete trust and abandon that I allow you to obtain the knowledge. Let the bright lights dilate your eyes, as you witness everything that is me.