Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 24, 2012


In keeping with the ongoing exploration of my current line of work, a.k.a. my Purpose, there is another role that leaps forward with particular clarity today.  I know with absolute certainty that I am here to bear witness.

It sounds oddly passive, at first.  What is bearing witness?  What does it mean?  Does one just stand there and stare?  Is it really “doing” or “accomplishing” anything?

Here’s what I think it is, and does.  Bearing witness means, first of all, showing up.  If you won’t look and won’t listen, if you deny, if you change the subject, if you twist the subject to meet your own agenda, that is not showing up.  Showing up means looking without flinching, listening without drifting off.  Showing up takes focus, compassion, discipline, work.  It means quieting your own mind enough to fully let in the words, gestures, expressions of another.

Once one has shown up, there is the story to attend to.  The whole story.  The whole, sordid, painful, gorgeous, sublime, rotten story.  The complicated story, the one that is stranger than fiction.  There is always a story, and it needs to be told.  It needs witnesses.  The darkest, most gangrenous stories need that kindness and openness, that lack of judgment, that radical acceptance in order to start healing.

Can a witness be a healer?  What is a witness doing, exactly, to heal the one being witnessed?  Let me reframe this.  The witness is not a superior being from on high, come to rescue the distressed.  The one being witnessed is the one doing the actual healing, knitting together severed tissue, taking the narrative of destruction and creation and turning it into something whole and alive.  The witness is a facilitator, a catalyst, a midwife, a devoted attendant, one who loves without reservation, one who helps gather up the pieces of another and say, “Here, I’ll hold these pieces of you, while you arrange them like a jigsaw puzzle into a shape that makes sense.”

The one being witnessed can be a single person.  It can be a relationship between two people.  It can be a family, a tribe, a town, a nation.  It can be a species.  It can be an ecosystem.  It can be a planet.  And they each can be witnesses in turn.

I am not unique in the calling to bear witness.  This is not some special, reserved status.  We are all called to bear witness now.

Can you hear it?  Are you listening?  Do you hear the faintest whispering, the sobbing, the strident voice, the laughter?

If you open your heart, the stories are waiting for your transcendent love.



  1. […] Identity, and start realizing that there is no separation between any of us.  I had to delve into the willingness to bear witness, and be witnessed.  None of this was with an eye toward feeling “good.”  There were times that felt […]

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