I’m fairly certain that ever since I was exposed to the use of the word witness as a verb (probably somewhere between InterVarsity meetings and YouthWorks training), I became uncomfortable with what it seemed to imply.
The crux of the matter, I realize now, is that many versions of “witnessing” seemed to involve very little to no, listening or noticing, despite these being primary meanings of the term. Returning to practicing disciplined Centering Prayer recently has been difficult precisely because listening, noticing, and being silent are things that do not come naturally to me, or to others, I might presume.
But they are so necessary to communion with God and with others:
how can we tell others about who we know God to be if we do not first engage in contemplation, and with intention, noticing and listening for God in and around us? This terrific challenge, to be silent before God, implies a sort of witnessing that I can get behind. This kind of awe-inspiring humility that I feel when I enter God’s presence is the type I hope to impart as I live, imperfectly, yet boldly in the truth that I am forgiven, that I am blessed, so blessed, to be a witness.