What does “Stay Until You Leave” mean?
Does it mean “stay a very long time”?
Does it mean “stay as long as the person wants you to”?
Does it mean “stay as long as you think you should even if it’s longer than you’d really like to”?
It actually doesn’t mean any of those things. Whether your home visit lasts 10 minutes or 40 minutes, “staying until you leave” means that you are fully present for the entire time you’re there. Being present means that your mind is not elsewhere thinking about the rest of your day. You are listening, you are engaged, you are pleased to be there and hope for a positive experience for you, your partner and the neighbor you are visiting.
Why is this so important? Isn’t it enough to bring some food or money or the promise of a pledge for a utility bill? When you visit someone, the time you spend with that person means a lot to them and will be remembered long after you leave. Your body language and what you say and do can help them to feel better about themselves and their situation, can give them hope for the future by helping them see they are not alone. You want your home visit, and your time there to be a positive experience and not just a quick get-in and get-out delivery of material things.
Let’s look at an example of a home visit and see if you can identify which of the Vincentians is not really present and how that impacts the call.
Let’s think about what we just saw:
- How did each Vincentian behave and how did it impact the person being visited?
- What was the body language of the Vincentian that is “not present”?
- How does that contrast with the body language of the “present” Vincentian?
- How could this visit be improved?
- Was this visit a total failure?
Almost no visit will turn out “perfect” and the result of this call was that the young man received help from a very caring Vincentian so this visit was not a failure. However, we have seen that body language, tone of voice and visual cues can communicate a lot, perhaps even more so than the actual words that we use. You saw that the young man being visited noticed that one of the Vincentians wasn’t present and perhaps wanted to leave and he mentioned it. Was that really what the Vincentians wanted to convey? So, look at the person you are visiting, face them, put away distractions like your phone, and actively listen by nodding your head, allow them a chance to speak and then respond to what they say. This conveys that you are truly present. You can show those you are serving that you really care about them by staying engaged, and that is what is meant by “staying until you leave”.
The Holy Spirit will help you with this. Before you enter the home, say a prayer to the Holy Spirit with your partner that you will both be fully present and will be there as long it takes to have a successful, positive home visit.
Here’s a good one – let’s pray together now:
“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and You shall renew the face of the earth. Grant us your Wisdom to be fully present to those we visit this day. Speak through us. Let us be your vessels that pour forth your love. Move within us to bring hope and true charity today. Amen”