1000 Voices for Compassion

There is a movement afoot among the blogging community to stir our readers toward greater compassion.

Crystal Cook's photo.

 

I’m on board.

As a shy child I was a watcher, and still am.

I see the older sister trying to smile brightly, while everyone fussed over her little sibling, the one who stole her place in the family.

I see the hurt and withdrawal on the woman’s face after her partner cuts her off and puts her down.

I see the homeless man, sunken in on himself as he pushes his cart, all his earthly possessions.

I see the young teen waiting near the high school for a ride home. He doesn’t fit, no crowd to belong to. He plugs in and tunes out, his smartphone his only friend. Does he pretend to be texting, trying to make people around think someone wants to hear from him?

I see the woman who slips in the back, and leaves early, so she won’t have to feel the emptiness of friendship swirling around, leaving her out.

I see the teen girl – way more of her than I’d like – trying so hard to matter, not knowing she’s worth so much more than skin and sex.

I see the woman with the scarf tied round her head, holding tightly to this life as chemo gives her hope, but steals her strength, and more.

I see all of that on one, normal day in an affluent, safe town in Florida.

Bario Los Fuertes from water Roatan , Honduras, CA
Bario Los Fuertes

What I saw in Honduras, like most third world countries, was often very painful.

Gaunt women hauling firewood, balancing a bucket of water, two or three bare-footed little ones trailing behind.

A girl not yet a woman giving birth on an earthen floor, her walls found-cardboard, and her only companions huge roaches.

A man who can’t find his way home after drinking all night, slashing his friend with a machete.

A little boy burned over 75% of his body from a kerosene cook “stove” made from a large can.

A lame diabetic woman left to her own resources, until the stench of gangrene in her leg drives her neighbors to call for help, too late.

Dona Estefana, Bario Brick Bay, Roatan, Honduras
Dona Estefana

All around the world we can recognize pain, if we have the eyes to see.

But only if we are willing to feel, because we can’t really see if we aren’t willing to feel, too.

I know, we don’t really want to think about and see children tricked or kidnapped into sexual slavery.

Or masses of people abused because of the color, gender, or social status they were born into.

Thousands driven out of their homes, and many murdered, in the name of religion, their children growing up in refuge camps.

And what of the pain we can’t see with our eyes?

Only the heart sees the pain

of the death of a child or mate,

of miscarriage,

of bareness,

of abortion,

of child abuse covered and ignored for years,

the singular pain of being “other,”

of being alone.
Woman in Switzerland by Jack H Thompson

Because I see, I can so easily feel overwhelmed.

After about four months in Honduras, I collapsed and cried, “I don’t want to see one more poor, miserable person!” My husband reminded me that taking care of the world is not my job. Not even Tela, Honduras. I can only change what God puts right in front of me to do.

So, with open eyes, I look, I see, I feel.

For many, just being SEEN is a gift.

Sometimes I can take action, but more often all I can do is care, and pray.

And we can all benefit from a prayer, can’t we?

To drive away the darkness, strike one match.

Take out your heart of compassion.

SEE.

Light one candle, however you can.

Are you on board?

After the fire

After The Fire

After the last paycheck is cashed and spent, after the nursery is emptied, along with your heart, after the door slams and silence bounces in your face, after the body is lowered into the grave, or the ashes are scattered, after the whirlwind, where do you turn?

vault with Mom's ashes
vault with Mom’s ashes

After “why” is no option.

After hope slips away.

After the fire has swept through.

What do you do?

Do you wonder what God is doing when precious, tender ones die young, and evil men grow old, their cruelty continuing for years.

So many questions with no answers.

Have you seen a forest after a fire? Charred trunks stand against bare, gray soil. No sound of bird or chipmunk.

Until spring rain.

Some of those trunks will push up new growth. And seeds freed by the heat of flames will sink roots deep into the earth and sprout another cycle of life in the forest.

But spring rain is so far away. And I am so tired.

Tired enough to finally let go. I can’t fix it. Can’t go back. Can’t change it. Can’t understand it.

At times like these, I feel like those bewildered disciples in the boat, rowing out at night at his command.

A terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake. Water poured in, and they were about to capsize. They woke Jesus: “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
Getting to his feet, he told the wind, “Silence!” and the waves, “Quiet down!” They did it. The lake became smooth as glass.
Then he said to his disciples, “Why can’t you trust me?”
They were in absolute awe, staggered and stammering, “Who is this, anyway? He calls out to the winds and sea, and they do what he tells them!” Luke 8: 24-25 The Message

Can I trust this God?

I had a strange dream, like those Biblical ones where God speaks to people too busy to listen when they are awake.

The dream started with a group of people in urgent prayer. I watched for a while, then God said, “Praying in the Spirit is not about tongues or emotions, will or words.” He waited for me to understand. When the urgency I’d felt as those people prayed lifted off my heart, he continued. “Praying in the Spirit is saying with everything in you, ‘Thy will be done.’”
Then we were standing by a dry creek bed in Idaho, in the desert at the foot of the mountains. God said, “When you fully surrender to my will, water will spring forth from the dry creek bed.”
Water bubbled up, clear and cool, flooded the rocks and flowed out into the desert.

How my dry heart needed that water.

Thy will be done.

Even if I don’t understand.

Thy will be done.

Even when it hurts.

Thy will be done.

“Before us there is nothing, but overhead there is God, and we have to trust Him.” Oswald Chambers, Not Knowing Where & Christian Disciplines, Discovery House Publishers

Yes. Once again, I choose to trust, because that is the only way I can go on living.

With hope.

And a future.

What, what would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living! Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14 Amplified Bible

If you don’t see the photos and video, click on the title to view this on the website.

Transcendent Love

I write this from my mother’s beside in hospice. After Mom was transported to the ER on Wednesday morning, a CAT scan revealed a hemorrhage inside her brain. She suffered hours of extreme pain, but regained movement and seemed to be improving. However, by Thursday morning, it was clear she wouldn’t recover. In the afternoon, she was carried to hospice, where our extended family has taken up vigil.

Janie and Mom at Hospice House
Janie and Mom at Hospice House

When we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, our own, or the shared journey of a loved one, the tyranny of the urgent goes to a corner.

Even breathing takes on a different rhythm.

Like the brilliance of the sun on the snow after a blizzard, true values rise up in our clear vision.

What I see astounds me.

If you’ve read my Glimpses for long, you have journeyed with me through some of the long healing process from the scars of my childhood.

Each person in our family has good reason to nurse their scars and protect the wound.

Instead, this week, love has transcended every decision, conversation, gathering. As voice messages pour in from Switzerland and NJ, emails and text messages from Maryland, Ohio and Texas, and anyone in driving distance joins the vigil, it is clear that our “Mommom” is a magnet for us all.

In spite of failings and her own hidden pain, she has loved us. Given us a sense of our true selves. Helped us to be real. (Read The Velveteen Rabbit.)

Mom has four living children, 10 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren who love her, but her greater legacy is the ability to transcend hardships, difficulties, differences, and yet love. To put aside preferences and pride. To seek the good of the other. To laugh in spite of grief, to hug and not retreat. To share the gift of tears.

So we sit by her side, at the moment simply listening to her breaths and watching her chest rise and fall, and savor her presence, her life.

Earlier today, as I wrote out my reflections on her life, I realized that transcendent love sprang from my little brother’s death, sixty years ago, which shook Mom’s world and cleared her vision. She ran to the Savior she’d been ignoring for many years. She’s been running that race ever since.

LOVE in her has become love through her. Reckless, transcendent love.