“For a compassionate person nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying.”
— Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932–1996)
PERFECTION is known in the person of Jesus – both the Christian and the non-Christian may acknowledge that. And if there is one principle of humanity that Jesus is best famed for it is compassion. But it is strange to think of compassion as a human principle; it should be a human principle, because of our emotional ineptness. We should be an understanding lot, but, alas, we are not really very understanding at all. Understanding commences in the heart that has been softened by the perspectives of life. Compassion is born from the womb of understanding.
If we can elevate compassion to a divine quality perfectly engineered to be worn by humanity – a state of being that truly enhances the experience of being human – then we have what we should all strive for.
We strive for it for each other. Trusting that the other has our back, we go on in developing our compassion so we might all benefit. And ultimately we all benefit. The personification of compassion is not only a benefit for the other person in our midst, but, we ourselves are the direct benefactors of our experience.
God speaks never more than through a heart opened to compassion – a heart recognizing what is human is also very much an image of the Divine.
Cultivating a thing that is both so highly admirable and beneficial is not a difficult thing, but it is entirely contingent on enduring that which breaks us. This is such a paradox. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, but in ways to make us softer and ever more pliable – not soft for softness sake; but softness that makes us ever more accessible to the humanity around us and within us.
This is why there is hope in enduring that which takes us to the brink. It can only help us if we don’t give up. It is the very hope we strive for; that what we endure will somehow be not only worthwhile, but it will actually pay dividends in terms of character growth.
Compassion is the quality of understanding underpinned by grace. It amends all judgment and heals all condemnation. Compassion accepts and does not reject. It respects the human experience and values it with God in the heavens.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.