I’ve been thinking about compassion a lot lately. In fact, thoughts about what compassion is, and why I want to live compassionately have been going through my mind so much that I’ve actually been dreaming about these questions. Which has been really awesome, and challenging as well. Because when I’m honest about these questions I usually end up feeling both uncomfortable, and like I’m figuring out what it means to live life abundantly.
I ended up having a conversation with my husband the other night as I waded through these feelings. We decided to do some research, so we looked up the dictionary definition of the word compassion in order to be anchored and have a sense of clarity regarding this idea we are professing to support.
Compassion: sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings and misfortune of others. Via Old French from ecclesiastical Latin compassio(-n), from compati ‘suffer with.”
After reading this definition my husband shared the following with me and I wanted to share it with you:
“The suffer with really stuck with me. To be compassionate assumes that you are with other people. You cannot be compassionate and isolated. Interesting. Community, or at least being proximal to others is a must. Not a problem in Philadelphia, where it sometimes seems like it is impossible to NOT be around other people. But compassion isn’t content to just be physically near someone. No, compassion experiences grief, understands what the other person is going through, and wants to act. I hear compassion in the words of Jesus,
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matt 25:35-36).”
To have compassion is to be around people and see them…to see their hungry, thirst, status as a stranger, nakedness, sickness, status as prisoner…and to act…gave, invited, clothed, looked after, came to visit. It is so obvious and yet richly miraculous at the same time.
One of the things I love about being a part of the Circle of Hope community is that the opportunity to both give, and receive compassion is prevalent. Check out our compassion teams if you want to see just some of what is available. I see individuals living with the compassionate spirit that coursed through Jesus and I am so glad to be a part of a community that has that spirit at its very core, and look forward to participating with my brothers and sisters here in Philadelphia and across the world.
-Dani Vasquez, writing
Dani Vasquez is team leader of our compassion core team, and is an ally of our Friends of Treehouse Books team, Circle of Peacemakers team, and Urban Farm Team.