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

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Week V - Day 3 - Giving the Cup Freely

I began my day with the same video I ended with yesterday. If you would like to have it playing, as you read, you can log in here...In Beauty, May I Walk

Parker Palmer
I couldn't help but smile when I noticed Joyce used a quote by one of my favorite teachers, Parker Palmer. "Too many of us consent, or are forced, to spend time doing things for which we have not heartfelt reason. If we were asked, 'Why are you doing this?' we would not know how to answer.

Then, it just continues to get better this morning.  After Parker's quote, Joyce moves on to quoting Joseph Campbell. While I've not read a lot of Campbell's work, one of my best friends has and I have enjoyed listening to him share his learnings from Campbell.
"When Joseph Campbell described the journey of transformation, he wrote of coming through the dark cave into a new springtime of life. The important dimension he included is that when people come out of pain into newness of life, they always bring an 'elixir' or a gift with them. This gift is meant not just for themselves, but for the transformation of the world. So, too, with us. God is always extending compassion toward us, loving us, through the many ups and downs of our journey. We, in turn, are meant to offer this compassion to others. Life is a constant cycle of giving and receiving. The divine gift of love that we receive is meant to be shared." (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p 118)
Wow...there is a lot packed within this one paragraph that would make for some great thinking and journaling! But, Joyce continues to share how her own motivations for compassion are significant.  She writes that the more aware she is of her motivations, the more she can give the gift of compassion with true freedom of heart, without any strings attached.
"The freer I grow, the more genuine my generosity becomes...If my motivations come out of 'have to,' guilt, self-affirmation, codependency, a 'fix-it' or problem-solving intention, or a 'redeemer mentality,' my compassion has too much of me in it and not nearly enough focus on loving the one who hurts." (Rupp, p 119)

Joyce admits that the more she gets to know her own emotions, attitudes, compulsions, and desires, the more transparent and truly compassionate she will be.  She also says that she has discovered how essential it is to be compassionate toward herself.
"The better I love myself, the better I can love others. Caregivers are often great at extending the gift of compassion toward others, but do very poorly when it comes to extending that same compassion to themselves." (Ibid)
Didn't there used to be a song about being  watched?
I feel as though Joyce has been watching me!

Lastly, she writes that gifts are meant to be given. Gifts are meant to be received. Gifts, true gifts, are offered freely.

THE Question: How and why do I offer the Gift of Compassion?


I need the breathprayer by now!

Breathing in: I receive...
Breathing out: ...I give

My cup fills, with God's
endless compassion...
Hold your cup in your hands.
Imagine the cup filled to the brim with God's endless compassion for you.
Thank God for this gift.
Take the cup and hold it up.
Ask God to help you offer this compassion to others.
Rest in the presence of God's love.

Scripture: Matthew 25:31-45
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison   and you came to visit me.’

usually extend compassion because...
When I reflect on gifts being given, I...
Thank you, God, for...

I am a bit surprised...Within the devotion, I was feeling a bit "convicted" by my not loving myself as much as I could.  Several years ago, I was preparing a scene for a worship theme around the Golden Rule.  As I gathered items and began to arrange them it occurred to me that we (I) had to love myself first!  "Love your neighbor as you love yourself..."

I was shocked because I treated most people better than I treated myself!  When I began this Lenten Journal I wrote about the difficult night with my uncle.  The night of the Super Bowl when he was so very agitated and in despair, I called a friend.  
"What do you want to give him, Sandi?"
 "I want him to have a sense of peace."
"Sandi, you can't give him something you don't have yourself." 
That was one of the most helpful conversations during that entire month and it applies to so many other areas of my life.  I reach out at the expense of myself...that is not loving myself.  Joyce said, "The better I love myself, the better I can love others."

Yet, as I look at these journaling questions, I feel pulled back to my old habits of give, give, give...  And when I am giving like that, I am not giving my best.  I am finally getting to the place I can accept that reality!

Praise God...I am not a loser!!

I am learning!

I am growing!


It has taken me a long time to say this with honest conviction.

I usually extend compassion because...I recognize a need and I don't stop to think.  It would be interesting how others, who know me, would respond to this question regarding what they "see" me doing.  Often, I have offered compassion without ever stopping to catch my breath.  BUT...I have also offered "compassion" kicking my butt all the way to the nursing home, the hospital, a shut-in's...because I knew it was something 1. I should do and 2. that others expected me to do. The recipient of my gift of time has normally been pleased with my visit, while I have often felt drained.

Still, ... the reality is ... those offers have not been compassion. They have been done so that I might check them off a list.  God, forgive me.  Yet...there have also been times when I have begun a visit from a the place of "should" and have been blessed by unexpected happiness. I have been blessed by a time of sharing and learning.

When I reflect on gifts being given... My mind drifts back to those gifts that were surprises...unexpected.  The smiles abound...from the gift giver and the gift receiver.  Those are the kind of moments I think Joyce is describing when she writes, "Gifts are meant to be given. Gifts are meant to be received. Gifts, true gifts, are offered freely.

As I contemplate this Cup of True Compassion, a song I've played many times comes to mind... helps to remind be kinder to is another kind of reminder that before I can give...I must love myself.... There are many lessons to be learned...

God of compassion, take me to the ones who hurt.
May I see you in every face.
May I hear you in every voice.
May I welcome you in each relationship.
May I give freely with true generosity.

Today...Joyce asks that I choose an aspect of compassion that I need and give it to myself as well as to others.  Ummm....this may be an interesting day!

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

1 comment:

  1. I thought you would get a chuckle. I do not know Parker Palmer. The name that I kept thinking was Peter Parker, aka SPIDER MAN. So...I was a little thrown by the "spidey" point of view; although, I think the quote could have worked coming from Spider Man also. Hee Hee!