Tuesday, April 25, 2006

compassion with a capital C

"Compassion is Sympathy in Action." That's what the sign said at the top of the subway car. I wasn't sure I believed it. I've taken to questioning everything I read, but it sure sounded good. Authoritative. It was an ad for New York Life. Life Insurance? I guess compassion and sympathy would have something to do with life insurance... compassion for the living who remain after the insurance policy is cashed in and spent.

So... if this catchy little slogan is true, where have I seen it at work in my life? What immediately comes to mind is my friend's response to my mother's death. She said the predictable "Is there anything I can do?" And when I said the predictable "I don't think so." she went a step farther. "Would it help if I called some people for you? To let them know about the memorial service?" I gave her my entire address book. That was sympathy in action. I wasn't thinking clearly, but she was.

But was it Compassion? I used to think that word required a capital C... something larger, grander than the kindness she paid me... I thought of compassion as a love that always goes beyond the easy, the pleasant, the expected. Compassion is something above and beyond ordinary loving, a depth of pity that embraces and infuses some love-less part of each one of us. it's easy to love the lovable. It's the unlovable that take the extra effort.

I've broadened my view since then. It's the small kindnesses we pay each other that change the world, one heart at a time. It's how Jesus worked... one fallen woman here, one tax collector there. Must be how God goes about changing the world too.


AveMaria1 said...

Thanks, I needed that today!

kpjara said...

I always thought of compassion as 'deeper', like the word itself should be said with feeling comPASSION.

I like thinking about how the small kindnesses change the world. I want so much to see the world changed for better.

Georgette said...

I totally agree! The little things add up and help bring grace to this poor world.

I am so sorry for your loss, Sister. May God rest her precious soul and comfort you.

In Christ,

HeyJules said...

It's funny but I never really thought about compassion being hooked to sympathy but I guess it is. You feel sympathetic towards someone or their circumstances and it causes you to act compassionately towards them. Makes sense...

But I also think compassion can be pro-active too. Unfortunately, I think this comment is going to be way too long to write here, so hang on and let me see if I can pull it together as a post!

You got me thinking again, CJ!

becky said...

Perhaps compassion is that place where we are all one - - where we share the pain of the other; - that soft spot in each of us - and perhaps that is the castle/dwelling wherein God awaits each of us - deep in the heart of every single one of us.