Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Week V - Day 1 - Learning Compassion

Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

The Cup of Compassion...recognizing my interconnectedness with all of the world.You Are the Face of God

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes." ~ Luke 19:41-42

What can we do? We can become a sign. Whatever happens, becomes a sign of joy and a fountain of divine love. ~ Bede Griffiths, OSB

Joyce shares that she learned a lot about compassion from a college professor who took a personal interest, not only in Joyce, but all of her students.  
"She would take time to stop a student in class or on campus, ask how he or she was, and then, really listen to the response.  I remember nothing of what she taught me in that class, but I remember everything of how she was with me and with the other students." (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p 113)
C. Houselander 1901-1954
Joyce continues saying that she has been inspired by compassionate people in history such as Dorothy Day, Mahatma Ghandi, Etty Hillisum, Tom Dooley, Mother Teresa, and Albert Schwietzer.  English spiritual writer, Caryll Houselander was another teacher.  It seems that psychologist would bring their mentally and emotionally ill  patients, they could not treat, to Caryll.  Because of Caryll's acceptance and love, these patients experienced dramatic healing.

Reflecting on all those who have taught her about compassion, Joyce notes that she does see some common characteristics.
"They often have a significant suffering or painful life evnts of their own, a generous heart, a non-blaming and non-judging mind, a passionate spirit, a willingness to sacrifice their life, a keen empathy, and a love that embraces the oneness of all creation."(Rupp, p 114)
THEN, Joyce invites me to to think about my teachers of compassion.  She asks me to name those who have taught me how to offer the cup of compassion.

What a question.  In some ways I think compassion has been hard-wired into me.  It is something that I naturally do. Like I journaled a few days ago, I am a strong INFJ.  Compassion and empathy seem to be a part of being an INFJ. (Two different resources that say very similar things.  Reading these again have been a helpful reminder that many of the things I "assume" others "should" do as part of being an INFJ! Note to self, read through these again when you notice stress building in your heart!)

Some believe we are "hard-wired" with one of the 16 Personality Types while others believe the traits that make up any of these 16 types are learned.  I don't know... But if I did learn...
Don Quixote on of my all
time favorite tales!!

I would say my mother, who from the stories I've heard, probably learned compassion from her mother.  I was involved in a car accident at the age of 5 and spent a lot of time in the hospital during the next six years.  I grew up wanting to be a nurse, undoubtedly some of the nurses I came in contact with during those years taught me compassion. The caring and love of a supportive church family during those years of surgery most likely taught me about compassion.  Then...all those books I read as a young girl about "heroic/giving/compassionate" nurses also taught me the necessity to see my interconnectedness with others.  Lastly, as I sit here pondering this question...I cannot remember not having a fascination with Jesus and the many stories of his caring, healing, touching, reaching out, parables.....

Jesus/Jesus/Jesus...I assumed
every child is consumed with
"knowing" Jesus, but maybe not?
So, was I  hard-wired as an INFJ or if I was overly blessed by influential teachers who taught me about compassion? I would guess this is a both/and.  Still, it has been interesting to consider Joyce's question of "WHO" taught me about compassion.

Breathing in: Divine Compassion...
Breathing out: ...teach me

Remember compassionate people you have known (personally or from history, scripture, literature, etc)
Review their lives. Notice how they lived.
How did they respond compassionately?
Write down their names on a piece of paper.
Place this paper under your cup as a symbol of how their example is a base for your compassion.
Let it be a way of honoring these compassionate beings.

Scripture: Matthew 10:40-42
42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

My experience of compassion...
The key thing that I have learned from compassionate people is...
God of compassion...

Honestly, some of my experiences of compassion have not been great.  However, it was not because of the giving but rather MY NOT KNOWING HOW TO GIVE in a healthy way. I would become consumed...I would take on another's burdens, rather than walking a long side them while THEY dealt with their own burden.
My empty shoes b/c I tried to
walk in someone else's shoes.
Jesus reached out to others, yet he did not lose his sense of who "he" was.  He didn't become "them"...he stayed Jesus and let them continue dealing with their life.  And....praise God....I am learning how to offer compassion without trying to walk in the other's shoes....leaving my own shoes (cup) empty.

I only learned part of the lesson from teachers, OR I did learn some of this behavior from others.  Again, I suspect this is a both/and.

God of compassion, scripture is full of words and lessons of your compassion!

"Therefore I said, "Turn away from me;  let me weep bitterly.  Do not try to console me  over the destruction of my people.""  Isaiah 22:4
"Oh, that my head were a spring of water  and my eyes a fountain of tears!  I would weep day and night  for the slain of my people."  Jeremiah 9:1
"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." 1 Peter 3:8
Another favorite story...
The Prodigal Father
"And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." Luke 15:20 
"You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate." Luke 6:36

Yes, scripture is full of these lessons, teach me how to offer compassion from a place of a cup that is always being emptied and refilled  Teach me, Lord, how to be compassionate from a place of health and wholeness!  I know, that "I" am a special child and that you never intend for me to lose myself.  After all, like I journaled before....if I am in someone else's own is empty!

I do want to thank you, God, for all those who have offered compassion to me and for the lessons they gave. I would not be the person I am today, without those special teachers.

God of hurting ones, thank you for the loving people you have brought into my life, who gave me comfort and strength in times of pain. Thank you for teachers of compassion and for what I have learned from them. I long to be a more compassionate person so that my life will truly reflect you. Revive and renew the gift of compassion in my life.

I will live as a compassionate person.

I would add that for today, I will strive to live as a healthy and whole compassionate person!

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed listening to the song "The Face of God" this morning, while thoughts of faces that I know flashed in my mind. It was a perfect song that seemed a perfect fit with the baptism at church yesterday. Thinking of others as the face of God while attempting to be His hands and feet to a connected body - thank you again for your gentle reminders. May I keep compassion at the forefront today, for I am not a INJF - compassion is not always on the surface of all that I do.