This year we celebrate the passing of many dear souls, including Nelson Mandela.
Mandela’s words quoted above speak to us about the most important gift we can give —
caring about others.
In the act of mourning we really grieve together even though sometimes we think we are alone in our grief.
Feelings of compassion can connect us whether we are aware of it or not.
A metaphor I use is that feelings (emotions) are like the land mass below sea level that connects all the continents and islands. They lie below the surface because we are so often unaware of our feelings.
Thoughts are much more conscious and therefore lie above the surface.
Feelings — especially our most tender and unconscious feelings — are usually subtle and often are very much below the surface of our minds.
Feelings have the ability to join us together in ways that thoughts never can, just as all the lands are joined together in one great land mass, way down deep.
We are all human and have similar feelings that can be activated in unusual circumstances. How often have we been surprised at how quickly we can get riled up, when a moment before we were centers of peace?
Feelings cause us to feel vulnerable, and therefore we tend to keep them below the surface.
Compassion requires vulnerability and also has the power to connect us as nothing else can.
The definition of passion is to endure, to suffer.
Compassion is joining together in suffering.
When we connect with one another authentically, allowing our suffering and hurts to be visible, a very strange thing happens.
We discover a sense of belonging, a joy, that we never knew existed. It’s almost like magic, but it happens.
The Buddha and Jesus both have told us there is suffering — tribulation in the world. And there is a path out of it.
Buddha has set forth the eightfold path as the way out.
Jesus said we should be of good cheer, for he has overcome the world (of suffering). John 16:33
Love and compassion overcome suffering.
So how can we develop this compassion? How can we find a way to love deeply, caring as much for others as we do ourselves?
What keeps coming up for me is to be compassionate towards myself. I need to see, feel, and care about my suffering.
This means going below the surface of my mind, into the deep waters below and state what is for me at any moment.
My journal is my best friend and absorbs all my woes and pain. Here I can be authentic, stating what is, and not what I think should be.
After this reflection I do my best to notice how life comes to me. What are my tasks today? How can I do them graciously, compassionately?
Who comes to mind? And how can I bless them?
Who calls or emails? How can I listen? What comes up in my heart that needs to be shared?
Can I share love with the birds and the trees?
And here is a biggy for me: Can I care for the person I don’t agree with, way deep in my heart? Can I be, am I willing to be, compassionate in this suffering?
I truly desire to grow in compassion, for I so love this beautiful world and the precious love that comes forth when I connect deeply with others.
If you would like to join me in this growing compassion, please do.
Thought by thought — act by act — let the grace of God be born anew.
It’s the greatest Christmas gift we can give.
It’s not easy, but vital that we do it.