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26th February: Just to Watch

`Could you not watch with me one hour?' Matthew 26:40

Jesus Christ was about to die. He knew that within a few hours he would be tried, flogged, crucified, and would die.

His reactions were those of dying people -- to withdraw from the crowd, to have with him only his closest friends, and then just a final few. The last inner conflict was alone.

Patients do this. They withdraw from outsiders to close friends, to the inner family and finally to themselves, alone as they contemplate and prepare for their dying. We are often included as doctors in that final group, but feel just as helpless as family. What do we do? Jesus left us in no doubt as to his expectations of our role: `Couldn't you watch with me for one hour?'

He asked them to be there, to watch and pray. He wanted them there: not as expert witnesses; not for protection; not for warmth or even consolation; not as Job's comforters. He wanted them to `watch'. `Couldn't you watch with me for one hour?'

To watch is to be awake -- to be alert to the needs of the hour; to be with the person; just to be there.

In dying, the dying person needs us there, just for comfort, just to watch. We don't have to do anything, just to watch with them.

We do so often feel embarrassed and out of place. We don't know what to do. We seem to want to do something, to say something. This is not necessary. It is our presence, not our performance, that is needed.

Lord, grant me the understanding to know when what is
wanted is just to watch. And grant then the patience
and the love just to watch.

Further reading: Mt 26:36-46.


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