Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Monday, January 28, 2019

Our shared humanity

Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded
It’s a relationship between equals
Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.
Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity
                                                            Rene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

If you want to help people you cannot stand above them
You cannot be separate from them
You have to be with them
In extremely profound ways

This is a truth as old as the scriptures

Remember that baby in a manger?
Remember “God WITH us?”

And Every time I read the story about the Baptism of Jesus
One thing always strikes me

Jesus does not stand on the bank
Cheering the sinners on, as they slosh into the muddy waters of the Jordan
To be baptized by his cousin John

No, he sloshes down into the river with them

Which merely confirmed that God understood what we too should understand
You cannot be a force for healing, if you do not some how
Identify with
And join with
Those you wish to help

Or should I say serve

God had a history, even before Jesus
Of tenting with the people
Wandering with them in the wilderness
In their midst
Camping with them

This is not a easy thing

The bible says that in order to do it we have to “empty” ourselves
Who the heck wants to do that!

Empty ourselves of pride, comfort, power
If I want to work with that person with addiction
I have to face and acknowledge my own addictions

If I want to work with that person who is caught up in poverty
I have to step down from my own affluence and privilege

This does not have to mean I give away my affluence, although I suspect that would help
But at the very least it means I have to go into the homes of poverty
And “tent” there, be there
And be there comfortably, happily, humbly

Mostly humbly, grateful for the hospitality
Received, but probably not totally deserved

This is perhaps why compassion is so hard
And why condescension is so easy

It is hard to enter into the pain
The want
The lack of control
The fear
The hopelessness

It is easier to stand on the bank and,
Our own clothes clean and dry, reach out and hand

“here ‘little one’, let me help”

I am fortunate
I have really screwed up at times in my life
I have lost a job, and deserved to lose it
I have gone from being a shooting star to being a falling star
I have had to leave most everything behind, and start all over again
I have been “relieved” of a job in way that was fundamentally unfair

I have lived on donated food

No, I am not there now
But I have been there

I have struggled with an impulsive personality
And I have done things I regret, deeply

And even though, right now, for this moment
I am in a good space, and have nothing to hide

I remember
And I can connect
I can understand, at least to a degree

Because of my own moments of darkness
I can stand in the dark with others

That is why I always have loved President Carter
Who admitted that he sometimes “lusted in his heart”
Bravo Jimmy!

And now look at him
Still married
Still serving
Getting sawdust in his hair

Building the right kinds of walls
Walls to embrace and comfort
Not walls to exclude and punish

I understand
That when I am truly useful
It is when I am with others as just another sinner
Just another person in pain
Just another anxious soul

That I am a healer
Not when I am the one with answers
Not when I am the one who is strong, or brilliant
Or even… good

I am a healer when I am just present
Holding hands with another
As we stumble through the dark

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