Guest Blog Series, Part 2: A Journey to the Well of Presence

Dawn Sully Pile is an author, speaker and hybrid coach/consultant whose passion is people. Whether working with children or adults, her intention is to be a catalyst for imagining new perspectives and possibilities and to step into them with courage. 

Dawn is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach and also holds a Master of Arts in Ministry. After 35 years in the education world she established her own business, Dawn Sully Pile, MA, CPCC, which is a wonderful potpourri.

For the sake of this writing, her most valued credential is that at 72 years old she is passionate about facilitating intergenerational conversations within families, whatever the family configuration, about end-of-life details and what matters most. To do so before it is too late is one of the greatest gifts to give and to receive. 

Her book is Baby Boomers +: A Guide to Designing These Years, Honoring the Full Circle of Life, and Creating Life-Giving Conversations. It is available through Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. You may be in touch with Dawn at

Part 2: A Journey to the Well of Presence

It is a privilege for me to walk to the Well of Presence with you, and to consider how presence nourishes life-giving conversations in your various family units.

I invite you to mull a couple of questions:

  • How often do you think about the word “presence”?
  • When did you last feel 100% present?
  • To what or to whom?

As we walk along the path, we will come upon a couple of baskets to the side and you will be asked to leave something in each one. No worries. Everything is safe and will be there when we return.

You are welcome to chat with each other. Also, on this short trek to the well, the blooming foliage, expanse of sky between the trees, and birdsong are stunning and can’t help but pull anyone on the path to practice presence outside of themselves.

Off we go!

Ah…Basket One…it looks like a birdhouse except that “Cellphone House” is carved into its door. Wouldn’t you know it! The note says, “As much as we do not want to admit it, we are often more present to our cell phones than to the person next to or across from us. For the sake of this journey, thank you for leaving your cell phone here. It will be waiting for you, though on the way back you might wish you could leave it longer.”

Some of you feel free and some of you are almost breaking into a sweat. It’s all OK.

Even as your hands are habitually reaching into your pockets, you are beginning to look at one another and conversation is more animated now, being hands-free and earphones out.

We come upon Basket Two, a big round woven basket on top of a beautiful tree stump.  I love this one because it starts to prepare us for the beauty of the well. The note here says, “Circle the basket once and as you do, allow it to receive your stresses. They will still be here when you walk back and you can choose to retrieve them or walk on by and let them stay, to be sent into the atmosphere as the moon rises.”

I can see as I walk behind you that shoulders are beginning to relax. It’s a beautiful sight.

Here’s our last basket before the well.  The note says, “ I am the only one of my kind in the world. I am not asking you to leave anything. I am simply offering my presence for you to enjoy and notice my spaciousness to receive. Each one who passes by is no different.”  

As we leave the last basket and round a corner, we come to steps made of natural stone. Up a mound they go until at the top we arrive at a well that is sparkling in the light, boulders around the edge, just the right size for sitting with ease.

We settle in, anticipation, relaxation and wonder filling the space.

The plaque on the well says: I am the Well of Presence. I am always here for you. I never run dry. Dip in and receive.”

And we do. For an hour or so, one after the other dips into the well and shares what is drawn to the surface. We realize, as the last one dips into what feels like magical waters, that we have barely moved. Time has been no time. The power of the words, feelings, and senses has created presence to one another we are loath to leave.

During our time together, family members switched boulders to be close, to begin to practice that which the well offers up. So we stay a while longer in quiet conversation, opening to and “trying on” presence in new ways or ways perhaps forgotten or simply neglected in the busyness of our lives.

Here’s a review of the qualities of presence that were drawn from the well, knowing a hundred more would surface if we had time for that many more dips into the water:

Presence is being present. There’s no way to get around it. It’s not just saying “here” such as when attendance is taken and you are only paying enough attention not to miss your name being called. No, it is “here” with your wholehearted self.

Presence is curiosity.

Presence is hearing that which we are listening to another saying, truly hearing.

Presence is acknowledgement.

Presence is vulnerable.

Presence is love that needs no words.

Presence is choice.

Presence is courage.

Presence is staying in the conversation… even when one thinks about leaving.

Presence is genuine deep belly laughter or tears streaming.

Presence is empathy.

Presence is dancing with the conversation and the thoughts of another.

Presence is openness.

Presence is a willingness to dive way below the surface.

Presence is giving and sometimes giving up what does not serve the other.

Presence is protecting.

Presence is opportunity to create something bigger and better together.

Presence is trust and a sacred trust.

Presence is messy.

Presence calls on us to shift, adapt, recalibrate.

Presence is accepting and honoring differences.

Presence is deep respect for the ones sharing how they want to live these third-third years and their desire for how the full circle of life is to be honored.

Presence is a precious gift. We know as we leave the path that there is a well of presence inside of us. Each of us felt it. The well did not give us its presence. It simply revived us, like a cool splash of water, to remember it is within.  

Presence comes in all kinds of packages that we get to create. All we need to do is say yes to live it more fully and intentionally with those closest to us.

Imagine the potential of life-giving conversations when presence is in the room.