Compassionate hearts unfolding and stretching are the touchstone of our spirituality. The tragedy still playing out in Haiti provokes many reactions in us. Our varied responses to the people of Haiti change our spiritual compass. What has it changed in you?
I was in South Africa when the Haitian earthquake happened. From people living in squatter shacks, township homes or the upscale neighborhoods of Cape Town there was an outpouring of disbelief, horror, along with practical aid offered to the Haitian people. In a country which has experienced dehumanizing brutality the empathy quotient was high.
Flying home through Chicago people were glued to TV screens in the airport. These travelers seemed unwilling to miss a single word being reported out of Haiti. Back home the conversations in person and on Facebook have a strong focus on responding to the people of Haiti. Every TV show that I’ve watched invites me to give to the Haitian relief and rebuilding.
Unleashed generosity in you or me towards others brings a gift to us. Compassion is the spiritual mark of how alive we are. Generous compassion is the sign of our willingness to be stretched beyond our own comfort, beyond our own needs. We may hear people asking “Why did God allow such a terrible thing to happen?” We might have even asked it ourselves. Blaming God or the victims of any tragedy is usually a defense to keep ourselves from unfolding generous compassion. When blame or judgment is offered, run for cover because they never have anything to do with spirituality.
I don’t know your experience, but I do know that compassion unfolds when I feel like part of me is broken, or I’m grieving, or stepping through muck of some kind. It’s as if the broken bits offer us a choice. We can step on them and be cut by their jagged edges. Or we can discover the unexpected surprising beauty of the broken or chipped pieces being reconstituted with the help of the muck, grief or anger that we’re detaching from. In reconstituting the pieces I’m stretched. When I’m stretched compassion unfolds and grows deeper inside of me.
Those of us who live in the shadow of places such as Mount Rainier or the Golden Gate Bridge know that an earthquake can happen in an instant. There is not much distance between us and the people of Haiti. We are them and they are us.
Maybe that’s part of what I experienced in the South African responses to Haiti. Empathy, unfolding compassion and generosity are where we discover that we are all one human family. That changes what it means for us to be alive. To become fully alive, fully human, is the invitation of the spiritual quest.
You’ve probably already given to the Haitian people. If you have not or if you are planning to give again there are several great organizations, including CARE and Doctors Without Borders, on the ground in Haiti.
How has your reaction to what has happened in Haiti stretched you or drawn you into unfolding, generous compassion? Please join the blog conversation at http://www.robertvtaylor.com/blog/archives
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