This past weekend I crossed paths with a woman who lives a hard life. She is in her 50s, lost her husband, and is trying to make ends meet to retire at a reasonable age. In doing so she is taking classes to get her undergraduate degree, working hard and trying to start a new life after the death of her loved one. It made me think alot about my life now. To not take things for granted and to never give up even when everything around is falling apart. Despite all the situations around her, she was in good spirits.
I am reading a book on compassion and keep thinking about how we are called to carry each others' burdens. But what does that mean in a practical sense? It means to allow ourselves to feel the deep emotions of others and pray for them. As the book describes it, "in compassionate prayer we bring before God those who suffer ...and through us ... they are restored.... Through us God's Spirit touches them with God's healing presence."*
Today, as I listened to her story I kept thinking about compassion. I felt empathy for her. Compassion is an emotion that lacks all pride. It doesn't compare. It simply allows one to identify with another. I am thankful to have crossed paths with this woman to open my eyes to the the people around me.
*Nouwen, Henri JM (1982) Compassion New York, Doubleday Publishers. p.108