Friday Morning Coffee #34: Active Compassion

Good morning, folks. 

Pardon me for diving into the deep end. Usually these posts are a bit lighter, but I've promised to share what's on my brain as I sit down with my coffee on Friday mornings. And this is what's on the brain this morning.

I'm thinking this morning about how we react to the needs and hurts of others. Perhaps it's on my mind because of the story I shared with you yesterday

So many factors drive our response. Their need may threaten to shake a comfortable lifestyle. We may want to lay blame for their need at their own feet, washing our hands of the problem because it's "their fault." We may have a constructed hierarchy of what pain is valid, showing compassion to some, like a mom at a homeless shelter, but not to others, like a suicidal gay teenager. We may be overwhelmed by our own pain, unable to see past it to that of others. Or we may be overwhelmed by the onslaught of pain from many fronts, caving under compassion fatigue, feeling unable to let our hearts break one more time.

I've been thinking this week about this last one - compassion fatigue - in relation to the hurricanes that continue to pummel the coastlines. We rallied together to respond to Harvey. Then came Irma. Now Maria. Do we have the stamina to continue to respond?

I recognize there's a lot I could unpack and explain further here, but I'm not going to take the time to do that today.

As I think of our call to compassion, I can't help but think of Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan. (If you haven't read it recently, go take a look. It's in Luke 10:25-37.) We'd like to think we'd behave like the good Samaritan, but if this was a modern-day scenario, many of us would think he was crazy. Risking his life, giving his money, changing his schedule, getting a strangers blood and filth on his own hands. As much as we try to vilify the priest and Levite who "passed by on the other side," I think it's a very human response. 

Active compassion is disruptive. It demands a response. It demands sacrifice. It may call into question our current priorities or paradigms. It derails our plans. It breaks us open.

My prayer for us today is that we continue to hold ourselves open in compassion, holding a space for self-less, sacrificial love. May we see need - and respond as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.