It sounds like a difficult thing, holding space. The way I understand it, to hold space for someone means you walk with them wherever they need to go, wholly present, shouldering their burdens along with them.
I think it's most notable when you hold space for a loved one. I've had ample opportunity to do this of late, and I consider it practice in life. But any time you ask someone "how are you?" and you wait for the honest answer, you are holding space. When you hold eye contact with the barista and say a sincere "thank you," you are holding space.
For me, anyway, it's the act of letting your needs go in order to meet the needs of another, and it's a direct route to the most sacred parts of me.
I didn't put those words on it while it was happening, but these week I've had the opportunity to hold space with my father. He's been to see more doctors in the last seven days than any one person should have to do, and on one particular day he was having a blood transfusion. I was told to expect this process to take five hours or more, so I packed my iPad, three magazines and a coloring book for the day. I used the iPad to send an email to family members, and other than that, I never once opened my bag.
It wasn't because I was trying to be disciplined or anything; it was simply because my place in those hours was with my dad. Wholly and completely with him. Sometimes we talked, sometimes he'd just smile at me. One of his friends stopped by to visit, so I took a walk around the hospital, but other than that we simply sat together.
Holding space for one another.
It was a simple day, and one that I hope brings physical healing to my father. But what it did for me was transformational, too. Because sometimes what we needs is to be seen, heard and loved. Nothing more, nothing less.