: a person who sees something (such as a crime) happen
law: a person who makes a statement in a court about what he or she knows or has seen
: a person who is present at a event (such as a wedding) and can say it happened
Witness (n.): c. 1300, Old English witnes “attestation of fact, event, etc., from personal knowledge;” also “one who so testifies;” originally “knowledge, wit,” formed from wit (n.) + ness. Christian use (late 14c.) is as a literal translation of Greek martys.
Wit (n.) “mental capacity,” Old English wit, witt, more commonly gewit “understanding, intellect, sense; knowledge, consciousness, conscience.”
“Standing as witness in all things means being kind in all things, being the first to say hello, being the first to smile, being the first to make the stranger feel a part of things, being helpful, thinking of others’ feelings, being inclusive.”
Margaret D. Nadauld (born, November 21, 1944, age 70, the eleventh general president of the Young Women organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1997-2002)
“Whenever we witness art in a building, we are aware of an energy contained by it.”
Arthur Erickson (1924-2009, native of Vancouver British Columbia, Erickson was a global architect and urban planner, who “was a passionate advocate of cultural awareness, and fervent explorer of human and natural environments.”)
“Even in the most beautiful music there are some silences, which are there so we can witness the importance of silence.”
Andrea Bocelli (born, September 1958, age 57, Italian classical tenor, recording artist and singer-songwriter. Born with poor eyesight, he became blind at the age of 12 following a soccer accident.)
“Unfortunately, in today’s world we have to be reminded that power of an oath derives from the fact that in it we ask God to bear witness to the promises we make with the implicit expectation that He will hold us accountable for the manner in which we honor them.”
James L. Buckley (born 1923, ag3 92, a US Senator form 1971 to 1977, Buckley is a judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.)
“There is no witness so terrible and no accuser so powerful as conscience which dwells within us.”
Sophocles (496 - 406 BC, Sophocles is one of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose plans have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides. The best known of his 123 dramas is Oedipus the King.”
“I want to thank you for taking time out of your day to come and witness my hanging.”
George W. Bush (born July 6, 1946, age 69, is the 43rd U.S. President from 2001 to 2009. He was also the 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000. He is a politician as well as a businessman.)
“The great thing about celebrity culture is that they can’t seem to stop themselves from displaying their ridiculous behavior. I feel it’s my job as a serious investigative journalist to witness all kinds of behavior and then report back to the audience through the prism of my own anger and bitterness.”
Kathy Griffin (born Nov. 4, 1960, age 54, American actress, comedian, writer, producer, and television host.)
Don’t you sometimes yearn to tell stories around a fire? Remember, as a child, eating those toasted marshmallows around a campfire and listening to scary stories?
When I studied and practiced the spiritual principles of shamanism I was fascinated by fire rituals, because the element of fire is an actually living being that can purify and heal. Fire also has the ability to listen and talk to us when approached with reverence. When abused it will fight back and destroy. But, before I get too far out, I wanted to talk about the importance of bearing witness through storytelling.
We need to hear each other stories so that we can have the maps to those forbidden and uncharted routes. Fairytales are those stories that hold these keys.
Years ago I read the book, “Women Who Run With the Wolves – Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype,” written by Dr. Clarrissa Pinkola Estes. The book carefully unwraps the original fairytales, those that were not covered up with gleefulness, but thrillers that were designed to be scary, bloody, and to get our full attention. Dr. Estes points out that the original fairytales were blueprints so that girls and boys would have the spiritual tools to make wise life decisions.
Hollywood is slowing come around with such films as “Snow White and the Huntsman,” and “Maleficent.”
The researcher in me loves retrieving, gleaning, and synthesizing information. I also love sharing my story and also hearing about the journeys of others. I’ve been that way since I was a child while sitting quietly on my grandmother’s lap, eating butter pecan ice-cream, and witnessing adult drama. I was an extremely curious and nosy child who loved listening and soaking up many of these novellas. Of course, I didn’t understand much of what I heard. I only stored the information in my memory banks to understand at another time. Now that I am an adult I am able to connect the dots and make sense of human psyche and complexities.
You ever truly deeply listen and bear witness to another person’s journey and viscerally go into their story and see, feel, and touch what they actually experienced? I can do that sometimes, especially when the story is told in truth.
I had a dear friend who was a Vietnam veteran. He had to process his very traumatic experiences by telling his stories, and when he told them to me I was there in Vietnam with him. Because I could empathize with my friend I had a better understanding of what our men had to endure while in that war.
We human beings are intimately connected, more than we can possibly know. After hearing my friend’s stories, while riding NYC trains I ran into a couple of other men, strangers, who had also been in that war. Somehow they knew I was also opened to hearing their stories. Standing next to me, surrounded by other strangers who looked on, they cried and gave their testimonials. I listened, without judgment and without shame, somehow reassuring them. Those New York minutes lasted an eternity, but for me it was a gift to hear and to know.
Bearing witness is one way of facilitating healing for another human being. It’s a profound kindness, especially when one is strong and protected, to be of service to another traveler.
If you can, start out small. Ask a colleague or friend to lunch, or write or speak of your own experiences. But, listen out for these precious short story. They are hidden world treasures of profound experiences.
Always With Love, Tonya