When Darla Dollman wrote a short post as part of The Writers’ Post Blog Hop, she raised a great question: How do you show compassion?
This made me recall one of Alan Cohen’s stories (yes, yes, I do love the man!) in his book Deep Breath of Life. He talks about the time he was waiting for a friend to pick him up at the airport. The friend was delayed, so Alan decided to amuse himself with a game of imagining that the airport was heaven! People coming off the airplanes, stepping into ‘paradise’ and being met and greeted warmly by friends and relatives, porters were assisting passengers coming in with their luggage and helping them settle into heaven! Alan enjoyed the game so much he didn’t realize that an hour went by. When his friend arrived, he asked her to join in the game. So when a stranger walked up to them and asked them to mind his bags while he made a phone call, Alan and his friend were happy to oblige – after all they were in heaven and had no better place to go!
Alan writes: “Because we were at peace, we were in a perfect position to serve, and we brought this world closer to heaven.”
To me that’s a perfect statement to describe compassion – reaching out to serve another and bringing them closer to a place of peace via our words, actions and service.
When my father retired from the Army, he was asked by an old friend to take up a job in a Leprosy Rehabilitation Home. In India, leprosy patients are shunned and often disowned by their families. My father is fastidious to a fault and was very reluctant to work in this area. This was mainly because he, like many of us, was not fully aware of just how Hansen’s Disease spreads. But once the friend took my parents around the Home he worked at, Dad decided to take on the job. It was always a wonder for me to watch him put his arms around disfigured and maimed patients. Compassion is what made the difference and in taking up the job he set us a fine example for us all.
When a friend would talk to young ‘urchins’ in trains and buses and try to find out more about why they were on their own, people would look at him strangely. But his compassion for these children moved him to set up a huge organization that takes children off the street and rehabilitates them – sometimes even reuniting them with their parents. My friend’s compassion has now made him one of the strong voices for Child Rights in India.
When I watch someone bring home cooked food to feed the stray dogs regularly, I see compassion in action. When I hear of a group of nuns called Mother Teresa’s Roses and their volunteers offer a place for the homeless to bathe and have a meal, I see compassion in action.
As I write this post, I want to work on my own compassion – it’s something I seem to have lost on the way – as I’ve grown self-protective and closed. Time to move out of myself again, to reach out and see the beyond the masks that people in pain sometimes put on – time for me to imagine it is heaven!
Thank you for this reminder, Darla.