Thursday, June 18, 2009


Compassion may call for special service for some, but it invites daily responses from all

SPECIAL SERVICE OR DAILY RESPONSES? Thinking of my transition to serve on behalf of some of the poorest children in the world, it would be too easy to grab some of the easy-to-use, heavy-handed quotes regarding compassion for the destitute, hungry, and homeless from books and quotes that fill my shelves and files. Shouldn't everyone be working directly with the homeless, poor, and hungry? No. Can we all be compassionate right where we are? Emphatically, yes! This quote segment comes from Henri Nouwen in Here and Now: Living in the Spirit.

ORDINARINESS OF COMPASSION "It would be sad if we were to think about the compassionate life as a life of heroic self-denial. Compassion, as a downward movement toward solidarity instead of an upward movement toward popularity, does not require heroic gestures or a sensational turnaround. In fact, the compassionate life is mostly hidden in the ordinariness of everyday living. Even in the lives of those whom we look up to for their examples of compassion show that the descending way toward the poor was, first of all, practiced through small gestures in everyday life."

OPEN TO “MANY LITTLE SUFFERINGS” "The question that truly counts is not whether we imitate Mother Teresa, but whether we are open to the many little sufferings of those with whom we share our life. Are we willing to spend time with those who do not stimulate our curiosity? Do we listen to those who do not immediately attract us? Can we be compassionate to those whose suffering remains hidden from the eyes of the world?"

HIDDEN SUFFERING "There is much hidden suffering: the suffering of the teenager who does not feel secure; the suffering of the husband and wife who feel that there is no love left between them; the suffering of the wealthy executive who thinks that people are more interested in his money than in him; the suffering of the gay man or woman who feels isolated from family and friends; the suffering of the countless people who lack caring friends, satisfying work, a peaceful home, a safe neighborhood; the suffering of the millions who feel lonely and wonder if life is worth living."

LOOK DOWNWARD "Once we look downward instead of upward on the ladder of life, we see the pain of people wherever we go, and we hear the call of compassion wherever we are. True compassion always begins right where we are."

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