Our Need For A Witness

My sister called, sounding like some sort of emergency was in progress. Turns out, she wants me to come help her decide how to arrange the furniture in her new kitchen. She and her husband just bought their first house and we helped them move in over the weekend.

Ok, I’m wondering before I go – what’s to decide? You have a kitchen table and 4 chairs and a jelly cupboard that Dad made for you, one corner of the room without cabinets, stoves or refridgerators…I’m confused about the confusion.

She needed a witness to her life.

Earlier, I had been discussing the movie “Shall We Dance?” with a friend. There’s a scene in that movie where Susan Sarandon’s character gives the best description I’ve ever heard of what you’re really promising when you take wedding vows. I’m really thankful I’d had that discussion just prior to my sister’s call, because I was able to be “present” and “mindful” and look a little deeper than I might have, normally, into what sounded like a silly request.

In summary, Susan Sarandon’s character explains that when you say, “I do”, what you’re really saying is that you will be a witness to the other person’s life, that you’ll be there to see the good, the bad, the ugly, the mundane – in short, you’ll be a witness to their life so that at the end of their life, they’ll know their life did not go unnoticed.

Of course, the writers of that movie script, and Susan’s delivery of it, are much more eloquent than I am being here, but you get the idea.

It strikes me that we all need a witness – more than one, sometimes. We all need to feel that our lives matter, that WE matter. That someone “notices” us and what’s important to us.

I love my sister, and I’m glad I was there to witness her excitement and trepidation over being a new homeowner. She really didn’t need help deciding where to put things – she needed to know that what mattered to her mattered to someone else – right then – no matter how mundane.

This confirms another suspicion I’ve had for quite some time: It’s not the “big” events in life from which we draw our sense of belonging, but rather the cumulative “little” moments along the way which too often go unnoticed.