I’m going to go back to what I love during this Lenten Season…taking photos and highlighting the beauty in the everyday, the sacredness of all that is around us, and in doing so, finding God in his creation.
I’ll be using Diana Butler Bass’ Grounded: Forty Day Devotional as a guide. I hope you’ll join me on this 40 day journey back to Immanuel, God with us.
“We generally do not judge economic or political systems on the basis of compassion withheld or inspired— although perhaps we should. We do judge religion this way, because religion insists that compassion is the whole purpose of any sort of spirituality or morality or ethics.
When religion fails at compassion, its fails at its own test. To neglect loving your neighbor—to lack compassion— that is the problem underlying all other human problems. (Grounded, p. 259)
As Christ followers, we all say we look at life through the eyes of compassion. I think though, if we are truly going to live into the compassion of Christ, it is going to require action on our part. Like love, compassion is more than something we say we have, it’s something we do. We feel for those who are less fortunate, we give to worthy causes, we pray for others.
There are times that compassion is simply sitting with the suffering. The friend who has lost a child, going through a divorce, loss of a home, a diagnosis of cancer. It’s in these moments, and those like them, it’s better to leave the christian platitudes unsaid. You know the ones; I’m praying for you, God knows what’s best, all things work for the good, it was God’s will, etc., etc..
While we all mean well when we say these things, most of the time they are used to make us feel better, not the person they are meant for. It’s hard to sit with someone’s pain and heartache. As uncomfortable as it is, they don’t need our words, they need us.
Sometimes, in the moments of our greatest loss and heartache, a simple “Damn, I’m sorry,” rings more true than our promise of prayers. How different our world look if we truly practiced compassion and allowed ourselves to sit in the suffering.
Am I courageous enough to enter into feeling the grace of God’s Compassion?
“It seemed to me that I could feel the Passion of Christ strongly, but yet I longed by God’s grace to feel it more intensely. . . . It suddenly occurred to me that I should entreat our Lord . . . so that he would fill my whole body with remembrance for the feeling of his blessed Passion . . . for I wanted his pains to be my pains, with compassion, and then longing for God. Yet in this I never asked for a bodily sight or any kind of showing of God, but for fellow-suffering, such as it seemed to me a naturally kind soul might feel for our Lord Jesus, who was willing to become a mortal man for love. I wanted to suffer with him, while living in my mortal body, as God would give me grace.”
(Prayer of Julian of Norwich, ca. 1390)