On Saturday, as my daughter was driving home, she saw a small, older woman standing on a street corner holding a sign saying, “I need help. Can you spare any money?” She drove past, stopped at the traffic light, then went back. She gave the woman the $20 she had in her wallet. The woman looked at her (I suppose with gratitude, but I who have never begged on a street corner can’t really imagine what she was feeling) and said, “Thank You. God Bless You.”
My daughter was moved to tears; her heart was filled with compassion.
he was afraid to move;
frozen in that space.
questions flooded his mind:
what if i acknowledge my less-than-ness?
what if i acknowledge that i can’t be what they want?
what if i acknowledge my deficiencies?
what if i acknowledge that i want to cease to exist?
the weight of the awareness of
his insecurity and sorrow
brought him to his knees.
fear shook him to the core.
what if I could simply stop being?
the room was screaming in silence.
he thought about
times he hid in insincere laughter,
times he allowed others to lead his thoughts,
times he pretended that he was happy,
times he gave in or gave up.
he knew that
dreams that are woven and
paths that are chosen
sometimes come to
screeching, brutal stops.
drops of tears, mixed with
wounds borne of fear,
climaxed in his heart of pain.
they danced in the darkness of his thoughts and
met in a cataclysmic explosion.
he screamed into the nothingness,
“come to me deliverance!”
If you were in the room with the man who screamed, “come to me deliverance!”, what would you do? Would you think, “I have my own problems, and I don’t even know him well.” Would you flee the scene as soon as you could, running as far away as possible? Would you pay lip-service to his pain by saying something (anything) to shut it down? Or, would you offer intentional compassion—benevolence given from the heart?
Compassion isn’t insincerely throwing a sugary sentiment on top of someone’s pain or saying something inane just to “get it over with.” Compassion isn’t giving someone a quick hug and then running away. And, compassion isn’t something we should only hand out on a very selective basis when it’s convenient.
Compassion requires care and sincerity; listening and trying to understand what the other is going through. It requires the “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you,” of The Bible.
Compassion can be hard, but we’re called to it. It can be a way to make amends for when you could not give of yourself in the past. It can bubble up from having walked alongside another whose life has been filled with challenge. It can spill from the faucet of your own personal pain. And compassion can come from the desire to be that person, that goodness, that light that shines hope in another journeyer’s life.