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

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Week V - Day 4 - The Cup of Sacrifice

I was "kind of" blessed by a song that fits so well with Joyce's book and The Cup of Compassion.  Yesterday, the Wednesday Lunch Bunch spent time talking about living from an attitude of abundance rather than the fear of scarcity.  I say "kind of" because the vocals and the images on these videos are really not part of my eclectic taste in music.  Still, the words of the song are an appropriate blessing to begin a day of compassion.

Sharon Salzberg
Sharon Salzberg, author and teacher of meditation practices says, " the strength that arises out of seeing the true nature of suffering in the world. Compassion allows us to bear witness to that suffering, whether it is in ourselves or others, without fear; it allows us to name injustice without hesitation, and to act strongly, with all the skill at our disposal.

Joyce then continues by beginning today's lesson by saying, "Compassion has a price. It does not come without a cost, the least of which is the pain that pierces our own hearts as we accompany one who is suffering.
"When we speak out and take a stand against injustice, our compassion can cost us ridicule, rejection, loss of friends, and even the termination of our job. When we are willing to be present with one who is in great physical or emotional pain, our compassion can cost us our precious time and energy. Sometimes when we suffer with others, such as the homeless, the dying, those with AIDS, the imprisoned, we can be confronted with our own fears, insecurities, powerlessness, arrogance, or prejudices." (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p 121)
Again, I am humbled and amazed that Joyce seems to have been watching me live through so many situations.  Again, I am surprised by how the things I am writing or thinking...I then read within her book a few days later.  The devotion I prepared for the Team/Session meeting last evening asked us to stay with Mary's confusion at the tomb...before she saw the "gardener."  She tells the angel, "I don't know where they have taken him!"

I asked the leaders to stay with that question before moving on to the story they know so well.  "I don't know where they have taken him!"

Is this story a myth, truth, a it a tale that has been told well?

It took several minutes for a response, and I had just about given up when one woman spoke up...and then another...

I shared that while sitting with my uncle, one night when he was between his logical mind and the dementia of Sundowners, he asked, "San, what if it has been a lie? What if this is all there is?"

I was stunned, not sure how to respond.  Yet, we talked about faith and doubts for the next 15 minutes...before the confusion of the evening took away his mind.

Compassion does put us in places where our fears and our doubts...our sense of powerlessness and our prejudices can all rise up in our hearts.
"Compassion urges us to move out of our comfortable niches of security. Compassion stretches us and asks us to let go of apathy and indifference. Compassion refuses to accept excuses of busyness, ignorance, or helplessness. Compassion invites us to reach out to those who suffer, 'to live,' as Sharon Salzberge notes, 'with sympathy for all living beings without exception.' (Ibid)
Do you remember the movie Patch Adams?  Here...I've Got Faith of The Heart...

Oh my, listening to this song, and watching the Robin Williams character, Patch Adams brings back memories...times I paid for my compassion, it also fills my heart with hope.

Joyce brings her thoughts today to a close by sharing that it can take many long years of living compassionately, before we stop counting the cost and respond with fewer regrets or self-concerns.
"This is not to say that we omit taking care of ourselves or deny our own feelings.  Far from it. It is the person who knows how to care well for self who will offer the purest and most generous compassion to another. We are, after all, to love others as we love ourselves. (Lk 10:27)" (Ibid)
How appropriate, on this day before Good Friday, that I read:
Depiction of Mary at the foot of the cross.
"When I think of the great sacrifice that compassion asks, I see Mary, the mother of Jesus, standing at the foot of the cross. She stood there bravely with the greatest sorrow a mother could have. Compassion cost Mary's son his life. Compassion cost Mary an agonizing grief that only a parent can fully realize. Both Mary and Jesus knew and paid the price of compassion." (Ibid)

Breathing in: I stand...
Breathing out: ...beneath the cross 


Stand with the cup in your hands.
Visualize yourself with God's compassion filling your soul with love.
Then picture someone (or a group) who huts.
Imagine what the pain must be like.
Let your loving care and concern go to them.
Stand at the foot of their cross.
Send hope and courage to them.

Scripture: John 19:25-27
26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

When I picture Mary, the mother of Jesus, standing at the foot of his cross, I ...
Here are some ways in which compassion costs me:
Dear Mary,...

....have to walk away from this for a moment in order to settle my heart.

At the foot of the cross....
Interesting, I have wondered several times during this Lenten season what I would have done on that fateful day in Jerusalem.  Early in the season a Facebook friend/cousin wrote, "Oh, to have been one of those standing at the foot of Jesus' cross!" I replied, that most of the disciples ran...  And, I have wondered if I would have run....

Today, Joyce asks me to place myself at the foot of Jesus' cross.  Did you know that the images of him being "high" up is probably not true?  Many historians claim that the Roman cross was not that high....I would be close to eye level with Jesus... When I picture Mary, the mother of Jesus, standing at the foot of his cross, I ... my heart feels so full, that it is difficult to breath.  I cannot imagine such cruelty. I am at a loss for words...

Here are some ways in which compassion costs me:  In the past, I have lost "friends", I have been hurt emotionally and a couple of times I have been hurt physically.  In the past and now today, compassion costs me a peaceful heart.  It is difficult to watch and hold suffering without my own doubts and fears surfacing.

Compassion has taken time, sometimes time that I don't feel I those times I have often worked/served from an attitude of scarcity and anxiety over other's thoughts and expectations.

Tonight, at our Maundy Thursday service, we will gather around a large table set up in the front of the sanctuary.  We will read scripture passages and will offer symbols of Jesus' last few hours before the nails were driven into his hands and feet.  We will reflectively sing verses of "Were You There?" And I want to scream up to God, "Wasn't there any other way??"

Dear Mary,...  I cannot imagine the strength and the love it took for you to stand at Jesus' cross. I am so saddened on this day to know that all of that happened because of man kind .... because of me.

Oh Sacred Head Now Wounded is a prayer I can carry with me this day.  Lord, open my heart so that compassion might flow freely, from a place of a whole and healthy heart.  May my motives be as pure as possible, may I strive to offer compassion in a way that glorifies you.  Something that seems so "natural", I recognize requires more of me than simply doing the act of compassion.  Teach me...

Mary, woman of sorrows, your son's life was filled with compassion. Your life, too, teaches me to suffer with others even when it costs me to do so. May I be there at the foot of the cross of the suffering ones of this world in the loving way that you were at the foot of the cross of Jesus. may I learn from your love how to be a loving person.

I will offer thanks for someone who paid a price for offering compassion to me. I will place myself beneath the cross of another who needs my compassion.

A lot of thoughts and images to hold as this Holy Week draws ever closer to the cross.  I am "behind" in the readings and will finish after Lent, yet, what a gift to hold these lessons at this time.  My heart feels full as I begin this Holy Thursday.  May I carry the image of my cup running over as I approach the Table this evening for communion...  Thank you, Lord.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi


  1. The service at church was amazing. Thank you for all the images, actions, sounds, emotions, and words that will be remembered and referred to in the future. Jesus was compassionate in so many situations, and we were reminded of that on Thursday. I would not have kept my wits to stay focused through those last days. Jesus shows us through His life how to live while we are here and gives us reason to be hopeful of our eternal salvation with Him for all who have been saved.

  2. Too often I do not take time to look at my saucer to notice how overflowing it is. When I think that Christ accepted the "cup" that allows me to be given the gift of life...I think about all that it cost Him here on this earth...I believe that He would have chosen to take this cup, even if it were only to save me- how humbling and overwhelming. I am not like Mary at the cross, for I know the end of the story and the promise and hope that it offers. May I sit with these thoughts and never see my cup as anything but overflowing with love and compassion. The giver and sustainer of life wants a relationship with me. I desire a closer relationship with Christ; may I not lose sight of this.

  3. The passage below came from a devotional this morning - Good Friday. It seemed fitting.

    "We don’t know why Jesus placed his mother in the care of a disciple whose name we never learn. Perhaps because they were two people who needed each other to keep on going. Perhaps because something needed to be healed. Whatever the reason, Jesus created a new relationship for two people even as he died. New life found them even in the midst of death. For them, the right one came along. If we, too, stand underneath the cross long enough to look up, we will know that the right one came along. He came for creation...for us...for the other...for you. Yes, the right one came along."- Andy Watts and Amy Dodson-Watts

    Praise be! The right one came along. May I look up long enough today to remember this.