Tag Archive | compassion

#1000Speak part 3 – Be compassion, every day

We enter into this world helpless; hungry, and greedy for attention. Compassion wrapped in the purity of a parent’s love becomes the sustenance with which that hunger is satiated. I believe we are all born with the capacity for compassion, but it’s something that must be nurtured within us if it is to grow.

Maybe this is why it’s called practicing compassion. We aren’t born with the tools we need to become compassionate people, someone has to give them to us and then we need to be taught how to use them. Parents cradle more than new life in their arms when a child enters this world, they are swaddling the future in a blanket of their compassion, and every choice they make has the power to alter that future, for better or for worse.

As parents, we have to speak to the hearts of our children with more than our voices. We have to engage in a dialogue of the heart because if we don’t, the voices of the world will fill in the void of silence we leave. It’s not enough to tell them what compassion is, a dictionary can do that, we need to show them.

Our children see everything we do, hear everything we say. They feel what we feel. They see when we go out of our way to help someone in need, they see when we ignore someone in need as well. They hear the kindness in our words, they also hear the disdain and judgments. They mirror who we are. They become who they will be, in part, because of who they saw us to be.

We need to be compassion, we need to define it so our children know what it is and how to live it.

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Compassion is something we can practice every single day, it may begin with self compassion, something many of us have a hard time with. We beat ourselves up, we overwork, under sleep, undervalue our personal worth, but if we don’t practice self compassion we render ourselves incapable of becoming a person of outward compassion, what we are really doing by not taking time to nurture who we are, is robbing the world of our light.

We need to let our light shine so there are no longer dark places in our world where hope cannot be seen. We need to shine. We need to be bright and brilliant beacons of hope, of what could be. If your light brightens the path for even one person to find their way out of the shadows, you have changed the world.

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Compassion is not conditional, it comes from your heart. Compassion is what you do for others without expectation of thanks or reward. Compassion is putting the shoe on the other foot, it is sharing the burden of a heavy load. Compassion is a smile, a prayer, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold. Compassion doesn’t judge, it doesn’t need reason, it doesn’t require monumental effort, it just requires a heart willing to take action.

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We all have those moments, even the most compassionate and kind among us fall off the proverbial wagon and sink in the muck sometimes. I did not too long ago.

I took my son to get a haircut, it didn’t turn out the way we’d expected it to. In all honesty, it was an awful haircut and I wasn’t happy about it. Instead of being gracious though, I was gruff. I didn’t hide my aggravation and I made a point of letting the stylist know how I felt.

I knew before I was finished having my say I should have kept my mouth shut. I could see her feelings were hurt, but I had been clear in my instructions and felt justified. I could tell by the look in my sons eyes he did not agree. When we left he said, “You were a little hard on her.”

Of course I ranted for a minute about my justification. When we arrived home I’d had time to realize what an asshole I had been. I didn’t just hurt that young girls feelings, I’d set a terrible example for my son. I backed out of the driveway without saying a word and drove right back to the salon. When she saw me, she averted her eyes and hung her head. I never want to be looked at like that again.

I apologized. I smiled and said, “Next time, let’s leave a little more hair on his head.” and her entire demeanor changed. I felt good, she felt good, and my son was witness to something all children should see their parents do. Humbly admit a wrong  and take steps to set things right.

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Compassion is essential and though it may hurt sometimes, it is what makes us human. It’s what keeps our world from crumbling and our hearts from breaking. Compassion is something we have to practice.

I am talking about real life, every day compassion. The kind you have to have when the waitress is having a bad day. Compassion is realizing the checkout girl with a scowl on her face and what we only see as a bad attitude, may be masking some incredible pain. Compassion is the decision to smile and practice patience and kindness.

It’s about not judging the grumpy mom with the misbehaving kids at the grocery store. It’s about not being annoyed when the elderly woman at the checkout line pulls out a hundred coupons and a checkbook. It’s about smiling at an angry driver or taking the time to give the homeless something to eat or drink and feel happy about for a moment.

And it’s a little bit about having patience with your hair stylist . . .

Crystal R. Cook

#1000Speak part 2 – Compassion is a verb. It has to be a verb.

#1000SpeakI’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks thinking about compassion, dissecting it and attempting to define it in some way. I prayed about it, I researched it, I perused texts written by ancient philosophers pertaining to it, I read passages biblical scholars have written and found blessings in the verses long ago penned to pieces of parchment.

I took notes, jotted down my own thoughts and feelings and complied them to create my own compassion dissertation of sorts. It was good, I daresay it was really, really good.

I deleted it. It wasn’t a purposeful deletion. I’m not ashamed to say I felt a little devastated. Those words were pieces of my heart and I lost them.

I was done.

Ready to throw in the proverbial towel and simply be done. I was angry at myself and ever so slightly defeated.

But then . . .

imageI was lifted up, encouraged, and compelled by the kindness of others to shake it off and start again. I became the grateful recipient of compassion freely and without hesitation offered by strangers who in a strange way have become a family. They come from all walks of life, from countries around the world I will likely never see. Some speak languages I will never speak, and some are so very different from me – and yet – we are the same in more ways than I ever could have imagined.

They exist in a village called 1000 Voices, they exist in my heart. Though miles and miles and thousands more miles may separate us, they are as close as a click of a keyboard away.

That is a beautiful thing.

So with the new-found strength they helped me muster I began again to write of compassion. It’s not the same as it was, not nearly, but they are my words and they come from a place of love and compassion and thankfulness.

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion has touched my soul and I am more than exceedingly thankful for it.

Compassion

The philosophy of compassion is not new. Since the beginning of time compassion has been a thread woven into the fabric of humanity. Biblical scholars wrote of it, ancient philosophers spoke of it, and today, we too, come together to remind every willing ear of its importance.

imageFor an ideal so grand, so important, and so necessary, I have a hard time trying to understand why so many do not seem to embrace it. Are they ignoring the primal instinct I simply have to believe we all possess to be compassionate? Do they simply misunderstand the true meaning of compassion? My fear is some people just don’t care, and I have to say, the thought breaks my heart.

One dictionary defines compassion as a noun, a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

I just don’t think that 23 word blurb even comes close to actually defining compassion.

Thích Nhất Hạnh is quoted as saying, “Compassion is a verb.” I agree.

Compassion without action is just a word, a simple noun like chair or rock. It has to be something more than a lovely concept or lofty ideal we sit around and talk about over coffee.

It’s not enough to have compassion, you have to be compassionate. How often do we see something or someone and think, oh, that’s heartbreaking, and then move on? We may feel compassion, but we don’t always act on it.

True compassion has to be acted on, it has to become tangible, it needs to exceed the definition printed to a page in a dictionary. It must be more than a feeling, more than a desire to act . . . it is the act that impacts.

Being a compassionate person says more about who we are as human beings than it does about those on the imagereceiving end. Compassion does not mean acceptance. The capacity to care about the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of another should not be conditional, measured or rationed based on whether or not we agree with someone’s choices, their beliefs, or their lifestyle.

When you suffer, I suffer too. In attempting to relieve your burdens, I too find a sweet relief. Admittedly, sometimes it’s hard to feel compassion, let alone act on it. When I look at the monstrous acts committed by some, I have a hard time finding compassion for them . . . I have to close my eyes and envision the child they once were.

Sometimes, a prayer is all the compassion I can muster, but in that prayer, I ask the Lord to still my heart and help the one I am unable, perhaps unwilling to help. Christ had compassion for those who nailed him to a cross. He said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” I try to remember his grace as he slipped from earthly life, I try to remember that in the midst of the sorrow of his sacrifice, he showed compassion.

I don’t want to be thought of as a compassionate person, I want to be a compassionate person, but I must admit, there are moments when compassion becomes a choice I must make, moments when it would be so much easier not to be.

imageTo me, this means looking past a persons deeds or circumstances and seeing the helplessness within them, the same helplessness that exists in each of us. I don’t have to subscribe to the same beliefs and ideologies someone may hold to extend a helping hand when they are in need, I simply need to reach out and offer it.

Sometimes, this means I offer a kind word to the unkind, charity to one who may be less than charitable, or help someone who would not go out of their way to help me. It may be naive, but there is a part of me that hopes my compassion for them may stir something within their own hearts, help them see that proverbial light I have been blessed to see.

Compassion is a verb.

It doesn’t end here.

#1000Voices

 

 

#1000Speak – The Village is REAL – part 1

 

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Over the past couple of weeks compassion has been front and center in my life, in my mind, and on my heart. It’s not something new mind you, I’ve always tried my best to incorporate compassion into every aspect of my life, but since I was blessed with becoming part of the 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion campaign, I’ve been immersed in it.

And I realized a few things.

First – I hadn’t even noticed it, but I was losing faith in humanity. Not completely, but enough to break my heart just a little bit at the realization. I was no longer seeing the good. I used to look for it, I would seek it out when it wasn’t obvious. Somewhere along the line I stopped looking, and as a result, I began to think there was no good left to be found.

Second – I stopped trying to be the good I saw missing. I’m not saying I became a heartless wretch by any means, but I may have let a few opportunities to be the good someone else needed pass by. I was letting my annoyances show and my aggravations alter my actions.

Third – I was retreating. This is something I’ve had to fight throughout my life, the desire, the need to shut down and distance myself. The problem was, I began retreating from the ones I love most. I was moving farther and farther away from myself as well and the distance was making me angry.

But then . . . a wake up call. A message, a reminder. There is good. 

I had a choice to make. I am still thanking God for guiding me in the right direction. I chose to seek the good and the amazing, slightly unexpected, and glorious thing is – I found some. The even more surprising part, at least to me, is I decided to become a part of it all.

I can see the good again. The bad hasn’t gone away, it likely never will, but as long as I can see the good, as long as I know I am part of that good, I can breathe.

They say actions speak louder than words, but words, to me, are action as well. The #1000Speak initiative is proof of that. It started with words born from a need, a desire for change. A plea for help, a call to action. It began with words on a page and it sparked something magical. This is where it began . . . we-all-need-the-village, written by Lizzi and shared with the world on her blog, Considerings.

When another beautiful blogger, Yvonne, read her words, she took them to heart and made a suggestion – What if we all joined our voices and created the village? She did more than just share an idea, she decided to build the village and people began moving in. I’m sure she may have thought the notion of getting 1000 bloggers to come together on one day, today, February 20, 2015, might be a bit of a challenge, but it wasn’t. They came quickly and happily and soon exceeded 1000.

It is a beautiful village and I am honored to walk its virtual streets, paved with good intentions and love.

Over the past couple of weeks, words of compassion have been pouring from the hearts of everyone involved, sharing without hesitation or reservation the deepest, truest, and most beautiful parts of themselves. It is awe-inspiring.

This virtual village is real and while the words and images shared by those who reside there are characters on a screen, their message has become tangible and found its way into the real world. I know this because I exist in this real world and if the words splashed across my screen can bring about a change in me and renew my spirit, I know it is doing the same for others. When our spirits are awakened and challenged it leads to action and action changes everything.

The next couple of posts here at The Qwiet Muse will be my contributions to 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion. Click the little blue linky button below to view or share your own links and join the chorus of compassion.


#1000Voices

#1000Speak – Jesse and the man in the suit – Compassion isn’t complicated

The ‪#‎1000Speak‬ day of compassion -compassion awareness- is here! On the 20th, (which for some of us is now) bloggers from around the globe will be posting their stories and thoughts about compassion. I hope you are blessed enough to read many of them, all of them!

I also hope you join us in spreading this message of compassion. Sometimes it’s easy to find ourselves wondering if there is any compassion left in this world . . . there is and it is beautiful.

Help us reach as many hearts as we can by sharing, liking, and tweeting the #1000Speak posts you come across.

Be a part of compassion in action!

Click the little blue linky frog following the post to add your #1000Speak links.

~ I hope you come back and visit me throughout the day ~ I’ll be sharing more of my own thoughts on compassion, I’d love to share them with you . . .

I am a consummate people watcher, seeing people outside of their inner circles, their comfort zones, and their safety nets while out shopping and running errands is fascinating. People tend to be at their most real when out and about, alone, without putting on pretenses for the people they are closest to. The masks so many of us often wear come off and the trueness of self shows.

It’s not always pretty what lies beneath.

Some people wear their compassion on their sleeve for all to see. It is simply who they are. Others wear it as a mask they sometimes forget to hide behind.

“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.” Henri J.M. Nouwen

I know of a man who gave of what he had; he gave generous donations to charities, he dropped off no longer needed items to be delivered and dispersed among the needy. He gave, and he gave often. Most saw these actions as the good works of a compassionate man leading an altruistic life.

To the ones benefiting from his philanthropic endeavors he was exactly those things, but he did these things not out of compassion as much as he did them for the accolades and the nice tax write-offs he received. In his daily dealings he was cold and selfish. He would walk past a thirsty man without giving a second glance on his way to buy an expensive cup of coffee, and he did just that almost every day.

Photo by Irene WilsonI know of another man; he used to sit on the corner by that same coffee shop the wealthy man frequented, he never asked for anything. He sat there at the corner, watching people go by, accepting whatever kindnesses they offered. He was gracious with his gratitude when they stopped, he always said “God bless you as He has blessed me.

If a kind stranger brought him something to eat or drink from the coffee shop, he gave the first portion of it to his little dog, his best friend. If you asked him what he would like, he’d say his pooch would love a sip of water and if they have any world peace, he wouldn’t mind a bit of that. Mostly, he just wanted someone to sit and chat with him a while. I have a feeling if he saw someone walking by without shoes, he would have offered them his own.

He was a compassionate man. I don’t see him there at the corner by the coffee shop anymore, I often wonder where he is and hope wherever it is, he is warm and happy. Sometimes, I get a little emotional when I look over to where he used to sit, singing old church hymns and petting his little dog.

I think about all the people who walked right by him, who looked his way and never saw him. I’m sure most were wonderful people, perhaps kind and compassionate in many ways, but they walked by him. Purposely not looking. If they could have done nothing else for him, a smile may have been just compassionate enough to ease the trials he had to endure that day.

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Mother Teresa

The man in the fancy suit who wrote monthly donation checks is just a small dot in my memory, he has no face, no name, no real reason for being in my mind except to serve as an example of what compassion is not.

The other man, his name was Jesse and I can still see his sweet smile when I think about him. The one who had photo by Irene Wilsonnothing to give gave more than the man in the fancy suit will likely give in his entire lifetime every time he said, “God bless you as He has blessed me.

You see, compassion isn’t complicated. It just isn’t.

People seem to think it’s some enormous endeavor, when really, it’s quite simple. You do what you can for others when you can, with what you have and if all you have is a smile and a prayer, give it to them. Give it to everyone.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

There is no such thing as someone unworthy of our compassion, maybe the ones we feel the most unworthy recipients are the ones who need it the most, if for no other reason than to keep our hearts from becoming jaded, cold, and cruel. For this reason, I still pray for the man in the suit and hope he too, is warm and happy.

Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves. Horace Mann

Crystal R. Cook

Photo credit – Irene Wilson

Click the little froggy guy below to share YOUR #1000Speak links! 

#1000Speak Topic Reveal – Sort of.

 

Compassion

Since I decided to add my voice to #1000Speak, compassion has been a constant on my mind and in my heart. I’ve found myself actively seeking out compassion, in part, to reassure myself it still exists.

It does.

I’m a little late for the topic reveal party because I’ve not been able to pin down just what it is I want to say. Defining compassion is huge, in reading all the beautiful sentiments and statements my fellow #1000Speak bloggers have been sharing, I find myself feeling very small. Compassion. Is. HUGE.

It is more than a word, more than an action; it’s just so huge.

I’ve been attempting to define it in some way, but really, compassion is uniquely defined by every individual in a personal way, the givers and the receivers. The dictionary definition for compassion is far too simplistic an explanation, mere words cannot encompass the enormity of it.

For my part, on February 20th, I am going to do my best to define what compassion is, at least what it is to me. I’ve been scribbling down thoughts in notebooks and scraps of paper for weeks, now it’s time to compile them and see what they become.

Crystal R. Cook

He was nine when he wrote it – This is how autism sometimes speaks.

 

Compassion comes in many forms, I think on this day, my son’s capacity for compassion and empathy and understanding of a world we so often take for granted shone bright in its innocence and purity . . .

imageThere are those who say autistic people do not have the capability to feel empathy or compassion or relate to the emotional world around them. I know this to be untrue, they may express these feelings differently than others, but they are more than capable of feeling them.

When my children were young we spent many afternoons in the park. Sometimes, when I drive past it, I can almost see them playing there, I hear their innocent laughter between the beats of my heart. One of these outings stands out in my memory, it was a beautiful and brisk autumn day, the perfect kind of day for something special.

Two of my four children are autistic, one is quite social and loves to run and play, the other is very much the opposite. He prefers to be still, watching, listening, taking in everything around him. While his brothers and sister quickly ran out into the open field to play, he spent the afternoon with his arms wrapped around a tree, he wrote this poem when he got home, he was nine years old.

VOICES OF NATURE

The wind chills me
as I walk the path
through the park

I hear a small voice
that is heard with my heart
It says “come to me”

I search for the source
of the mystical voice
there is only a single tree
ancient and weathered
roots exposed to the sun and the rain

The voice draws me nearer
and I see tiny little ants
crawling about
in search of food

I knew it was not them
that called out to me

I look to the top of the tree
the bare branches sadden me
I touch the tree
and feel enormous pain

Somehow the tree had spoken to me
maybe it is my gift

I sit next to the giant trunk
and speak to it for a while
it forgets its pain

I wrap my arms around it
as far as I can reach
I press my forehead
against the bumpy surface
and I think it’s thoughts
and I feel all that it feels
and it is thankful

Wilson Cook

1000 Voices Speak for Compassion