(BELOW ARE REFLECTIONS AND NOTES FROM THE COMPASSION SEMINAR)
Compassion is manifested 3-fold movements.
FIRST, GOD'S COMPASSION
Jesus knew the overflowing compassion of God that he presented God as a loving Father who grieves for his missing prodigal son; a father who suffers with the pain of separation, and then run, and embrace back his long lost son.
When we feel worn out, shamed or unworthy, it is good to ground our being with the divine compassion of God. To read scriptures. To be still in quiet prayer. Or to come to a worship gathering and know that in God's presence, at that moment, in that sacred space:
- We are known, we are held, we are celebrated,
- We are unconditionally accepted.
The presence of God is not the presence of judgment. This presence is acceptance and extravagant care. When you feel depleted, sucked up, drained at the end of a tiring day, pause, breathe, and gather your inner center by reminding yourself, "You are God's beloved."
SECOND IS OUR COMPASSION TO OURSELVES
Jesus proclaims, "I came that they may have life, and have it more abundantly." This divine intention comes from God's abundant compassion. As surely as our suffering moves God, God also beams with delight when we shine in our fullness. When we lived out our potential and giftedness God cheers, "That's my girl, that my boy." That's my beloved in whom I am well pleased.
And our pain, our powerlessness, our shame, or diminishment brings no pleasure to God.
Self-condemnation or self-rejection is damaging to our inner core essence. Like those internal involuntary monologue of self-judgment, like, "O, I am just so stupid." And sometimes we replay those thoughts and images like a broken player in our head.
The scriptures say, "Love others as you love yourself." And Jesus said, "When we see a speck, in the eye of another, we should first tend to the logs in our own eyes first." Meaning, we can't be too overwhelmed in helping others that we forget to tend to our own spiritual needs first. We can only give that which we already have. We can only give love, when we uphold God's love towards us.
THIRD, COMPASSION TO OTHERS
After we tend to our own inner spiritual need, we use this same principle to see beyond the negative characterization of another person. And then we understand that behind a person's anger is a wounded soul.
- Or behind someone's obnoxious voice is a fear of not being validated.
- Or behind a person's gossiping is a need to be heard.
Then that compassionate part inside of us is reactivated. They say that word compassion in Hebrew refers to a person's vital organs-womb, heart, belly, bowels. Meaning, when we are moved to compassion, our depths, our inside is stirred. So when we pray for someone, or when we act on someone's behalf, our prayer and good deeds come from the heart. And I know that is not always easy. But when we know that God accepts us, a spacious awareness is created from within us:
- So we can welcome one more person,
- So we can widen our arms to embrace one more soul,
- So we can move to ease someone's pain,
- So we can let go of resentment.
To love others because you yourself know that you are a dearly loved-child of God--this is the ground of our interior stability. Our capacity for compassion flows from the wellspring of the love we receive from God and others. Amen.