“A contemporary theologian has described mercy as “entering into the chaos of another.”
Is there a better definition of what those who work for the bereaved do?
Compassion…. Now there’s a thing. Memories of deep discussions with a Parisian translator at a Brussels Buddhist meeting place in the 80s, me arguing that a 3 year old can have compassion – he that it is only achieved/ experienced at higher levels of consciousness…. I still reckon we are all capable of compassion, but you’re right (and so was Jerome) it comes more naturally to the mindful ones.
I think you’re right, Jed – I think anyone can show compassion; that’s why the kindness of strangers can move us so deeply. “Why would he do that?” we think. Perhaps the answer is simply, because compassion happened to him. Mindfulness makes it easier for compassion to arrive, perhaps.
Isn’t it that children ARE mindful, until we educate them out of it?
“Suffering isolates us; loving presence brings us back, makes us belong,” says a priest in the original, quoted article.
“Now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three; and the greatest of these is charity”
“Charity” here is more than the business of bunging a few quid at the NSPCC because it’s Christmas, which is of course fine, in itself; but charity in this context is broader and fundamental. It’s surely a love that has in it no possession, none of the desires of the lover, a focus entirely on the person who needs love. Compassion, not possession.
Compassion is almost scarily impersonal, that is, if it hits you it feels broader than you, nothing really to do with yourself. It simply arrives. It is demanding and tiring. For bereaved people, it is surely an essential need.
That is why we all get so furious with people in the funeral “business” who either suffer compassion fatigue, or never could find much compassion in the first place. And that’s why we are so pleased when we find people who can’t help being compassionate. It just happens to them, they bring it to us, and it helps us to live.
The difference between compassion and sentimentality seems to me absolute.
What an excellent article
‘I have never found it easy to be with people who suffer, to enter into the chaos of others. Yet, every time I have done so, it has been a gift to me, better than the wrapped and ribboned packages. I am pulled out of myself to be love’s presence to someone else, even as they are love’s presence to me.’
One of the few verses of scripture I retain is this one:
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Jed – beautiful, thank you.
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