Compassion

For years, I’ve awakened at 3 and 4 and 5 in the morning, no matter when I go to sleep. I often struggle to get back to sleep.

In recent months I find that this is a most precious time in my day. It’s a time of quiet and an almost holy darkness. For even when I get up and dress and sit here in the half-light to meditate and write (I only turn up the lights enough to cast a dim glow), the daytime details and distractions of my life are obscured.

I can perceive the chair I’m sitting in, the floor nearby, but the light of my laptop screen is so bright as to throw the rest of the room into utter darkness – I can’t even see my feet there at the ends of my legs as they rest on the hassock before me.

During these times, His light seems able to focus on the one part of me that needs illumining this day at this time.

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Something I read just now of Merton’s is helping me to understand better what’s going with me right now. I have long wondered and prayed for guidance to be alert to His will for my life; to be aware of what He is calling me to be and to do.

I’ve known for sometime that my role of mother, wife and friend are my holy callings. But when times get rough and rocky for me or for any of those close to me, I can become so involved in the fear and pain of the moment that I often forget that this is His mission for me, I forget to use each of these periods to grow closer and to help others grow closer to Him.

Not just to remind them of His love for them, and His presence with them in the midst of their anguish, but to love them myself, allowing His love for them to flow through me.

And not just to preach to them of His love from outside the pain of their burden, but to enter into their burdens and help Him to help them carry their load.

And not even that … not just turning to Him for help for them or for me, but in the midst of the turmoil and fear … now, my turmoil and fear and compassion (literally translated to be with (com) or part of another’s pain and suffering (passion)) … to realize and give thanks that He has chosen me for this small task.

To realize that He has allowed me to help shoulder this discrete portion of His burden and thereby, to share in His Passion, to carry a portion of His pain, to lighten some small portion of the burden of His suffering.

All of a sudden this time of consternation, which can verge so closely on despair, seems blessed. It becomes a more holy undertaking where He’s “helping me to make of the lumber of my life not a tavern but a temple, out of the work of my every day not a reproach but a song.” (This whole anonymously written poem, I Love You, is here.)

And just now, as I write this, I’m recalling that I prayed last week to be given a better and deeper understanding of what it is to ‘worship at the foot of the Cross,’ to share in His Passion…how thick I am to just now understand that this sharing in His pain is the true meaning of compassion.

Praise God for His goodness and faithfulness in this and all things.

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The sun is up outside my window now; the new day is here. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!