Compassion (Day 12)

I’ve met and interviewed people who not only have spent time facedown in the arena, but also were brave enough to open their eyes to the suffering of others lying there with them. Brené Brown

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. The Apostle Paul, Philippians 2:1-2

There is an old religious joke that says if you have two rabbis, priests or pastors you’ve probably got three opinions. The joke works for republicans and democrats too. (Picture the presidential election debates where 12 party rivals are arguing on stage at once.)

In real life, there are theological differences, political resentments and radically differing ideologies in religion and politics. While I doubt that we can change that any times soon, I have great faith that you and I can develop the eyes and heart of compassion to treat people with love and care.

I’ve been at a big dinner of ‘dignitaries’ where the person saying grace reminded us: “Remember, the most interesting person in the room is the person sitting next to you.” I need these reminders day by day, moment by moment.

So, how is it possible to live the way Paul envisions– thinking, loving and regarding everyone’s opinions as better than one’s own? Or how do we have compassion for others when we ourselves are face down in the arena?

Simple thought: The habit of compassion (skill of empathy) is a miracle of grace and transformation, and the rising strong process sure helps!

I’ll leave us to meditate on the words of American Buddihist nun Pema Chödrön as quoted in Rising Strong:

When we practice generating compassion, we can expect to experience our fear of pain. Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us….In cultivating compassion we draw from the wholeness of our experience—our suffering, our empathy, as well as our cruelty and terror. It has to be this way. Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.

Starter Prayer

God of Compassion, help me to see my suffering neighbor as an equal. When I see my neighbor’s pain, help me to recognize my own wounds and long for my own healing.

Reading Focus for Rising Strong, by Brené Brown

We are well into week two, and heading into week three, of this 6-week study. The focus is Chapters 3-5 of Rising Strong. The topics are: Owning our stories, reckoning with emotion, the rumble and Living BIG.

Published by

Katie Martinez

Katie Martinez is a pastor and spiritual director living and working in northern Colorado—She speaks and writes about spirituality, leadership and the Martinez Family antics. Katie is married to Dave, and the two have four daughters, two sons in law, a boyfriend or two, four college roommates, one cat and three grandkitties. A lover of mountains, rivers, oceans and trees, Katie's favorite things are sleeping, waking, reading and traveling.

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