Compassion

What is compassion? When I was in seminary, one of my professors introduced me to a book called The Quality Of Characteristics. The author Ruth Gendler, describes compassion in the following manner. Compassion wears Saturn’s rings on the fingers of her left hand. She is intimate with the life force. She understands the meaning of sacrifice. She is not afraid to die. There is nothing you cannot tell her. Compassion speaks with a slight accent. She was a vulnerable child, miserable in school, cold, shy, alert to the pain in the eyes of her sturdier classmates. The other kids teased her about being too sentimental, and for a long time she believed them. In ninth grade she was befriended by Courage. Courage lent Compassion bright sweaters, explained the slang, showed her how to play volleyball, taught her you can love people and not care what they think about you. In many ways Compassion is still the stranger, neither wonderful nor terrible, herself, utterly, always.[1]
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The ties that bind

Last night, students, faculty, staff, and members of the administration of SUNY Brockport gathered in in the Seymour Union Ballroom for a time of remembrance of an 18 year old, Alexandra Kogut, who was murdered by her boyfriend this past Saturday. The room quickly filled with students and the sea of students continued to flow in until there was not a seat, a spot to stand, or floor space on which to sit. What was also present last night were spiritual values, which bring communities together and are not always present in situations of domestic violence. All too often, I hear stories of how people who were in abusive situations received no support from their churches or faith communities. Recently, I heard of a woman who had been assaulted and stabbed by her abusive husband. As she recovered from her injuries, she turned to her church, expecting pastoral care and support. She was not then employed because her husband would not allow her to work.
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Recognizing and Releasing the Ghosts

This may not be about what you are thinking, but only you will know that as I have no idea what you are thinking. That is the very kind of ghost I am talking about. I can think I know what you are thinking, but what I think only exists in my mind. What you think I am thinking only exists in your mind. It is as if we are surrounded by beings, which exist as we create them to exist. They play a role and function in our minds. How I think about them, and how I relate to them, is about me. How they exist or do not exist in your mind is about you. Don Miguel Ruiz talked about these beings as ghosts that exist in our mind; it is as if there is a ghost town, which lives in our minds.
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Courage Up, Not Cover Up

Perhaps one of the most important qualities in spiritual growth is courage. Courage is what enables us to move through our fears rather then cover them up. Michael Kimmel, a sociologist and leader in Men’s Studies, illustrated one way even our youth have learned to cover up their fears. He said the easiest way to start a fight is to walk on to a playground and ask which one of the kids playing is gay. The fear of anyone thinking you are gay is enough to provoke an all out effort to prove their masculinity, and to demasculate others. There are aspects of our personality, which we are supposed to cover up. We are not supposed to show weakness, especially men. “Are you a baby?”
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The Little Engine, Dorothy, and Buried Treasure

My guess is that most of you remember the story of the Little Engine That Could. In case you do not, or just need to have one of those inner 5-year-old moments, it goes like this. Chug, Chug, Chug, Puff, Puff, Puff, Ding-Dong, Ding-Dong. The little train rumbled over the tracks. She was a happy little train, for she had a jolly load to carry. Her cars were filled full of good things for boys and girls. The little train was carrying all these wonderful things to the good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain. She puffed along merrily. Then all of a sudden, she stopped with a jerk. She simply could not go another inch. She tried and she tried, but her wheels would not turn. What were all those good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain going to do?
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Curb Appeal: The Soul – Part 2

I have never been much of a gardener. So learning from Billijo this past week has been an amazing blessing, I think for both of us. Watching her and asking her questions, I have come to realize the spiritual significance to gardening, working the dirt, and the secrets of gardening. It has been a journey that began when she first started, and has continued to reveal new secrets and spiritual lessons as the yard continues to be transformed. While I have realized that this is her gift to us, I have wanted to do what I could to be a part of it. Billijo got me involved by having me sit next to the wheelbarrow with a sifter over it. She would bring me these clumps of grass and dirt and my job was to sift off the dirt and remove that which was not good soil.
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Grace in Community

Those of you who know me personally know that I should have stock in some tissue company because it takes so little to bring tears to my eyes. While there have been days in my life I have cried because I was angry and days I have cried because I was sad, the past year and a half or so, I have most cried for two reasons. One is when my body has been in pain, which fortunately has not been very often. The other, is that my cup is overflowing with experiencing the Creator’s love. One of the situations which always leaves me feeling humbled is when I am blessed with the experience of grace in community. It is that kind of moment like January 1, 2000. It seemed like that day everyone was in love with each other.
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Re-Design

A few weeks ago, I reflected on Ghandi’s message to “be the change you want to see in the world” and HGTV’s slogan, “change the world, start at home.” I was reminded of these messages again when posting the Inspiritual Thought for the Day “my life is my message” by Ghandi. It got me thinking, if my life is my message, what does it look like. When someone walks into my emotional and spiritual house what do they see. Are you greeted with a sofa of fear, a loveseat of anger, and a couple of chairs of hatred or do you settle into a sofa of love, a loveseat of joy, and a couple of chairs of peace? To borrow the name of an old show from HGTV, sometimes we need a re-design.
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Courage’s friend: Compassion

If courage were a person, how would you describe them? Ruth Gendler described courage as having “roots. She sleeps on a futon on the floor and lives close to the ground. Courage looks you straight in the eye. She is not impressed with powertrippers and she knows first aid. Courage is not afraid to weep and she is not afraid to pray, even when she is not sure who she is praying to. When Courage walks it is clear that she has made the journey from loneliness to solitude. The people who told me she is stern were not lying, they just forgot to mention that she is kind. Courage is what was hiding inside the king/queen of the forest and what lives inside each of us.
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If I were King/Queen of the Forest.

Have you ever had one of those times in your life when you get this song stuck in your head and you cannot seem to shake it? Ok, so it is not even a whole song. It is just one line from The Wizard of Oz. The Cowardly Lion sings the line when he is thinking about how different his life would be if he had courage. He starts off by singing “If I were king of the forest.” How often do we think to ourselves, if I were king of queen of the forest, I would do X in my life. I know I have played the what if version in a number of different ways in my life. If I were X, then I would do Y. If I were president, then I would do X. My guess is that in many of us there is some aspect of the Cowardly Lion’s personality that lives and has taken up varying degrees of residence in our minds, spirits, and souls.
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Moving Beyond the Fear

There was this one day when I got an invitation to attend a meeting. I was thinking about going until I saw that someone I was once very close to was going to be there. For a moment, I had thought about not going. I found myself making all these decisions out of fear. Fear of what they would say, what I would do, how we would react, and the scenario continued. Then I had to stop myself and ask myself what was I afraid of. Where was that fear coming from? Why was I putting that negative energy out there into the universe? Why was I thinking negative things about others or myself? It is true, I was not saying anything negative about others, or myself but I was thinking them.
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