Compassion is no fait accompli. It is not easily accomplished:
“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932 – 1996)
Who would want to journey into the darkness, with intention, with their hope, even in the midst of those who still experience the darkness? The wounded healer does, that’s who.
When we have gone to that lonely place – day upon day, month upon month – with not so much as a glimmer of reprieve, we learn something about life, if we go there and journey there with God.
In that place, that lonely destination of nothingness of soul, where the null remains and patience seems ridiculous, the paradoxical occurs.
We are shown something that can only be seen in the midst of an abyss. Only as life strangles us for life, and we enter a time of death, not wanting to wake from our slumber, can we appreciate this thing called compassion. It makes no sense until we are desperate for it; then we can see everyone’s need of it.
Suddenly, as the eyes of our hearts are opened, as our hearing tunes into all the depth of need all around us, we wish to go with the hurting, the weak, and the vulnerable. Now there isn’t the time or motive to relax with those coasting through life. There is the call of God on the life of the one who has been refined by that incineration of the Lord.
With the capacity to see the need of compassion, and, importantly, the willingness to do what needs to be done, there is the addition of passion: it cannot not be done.
So many needs for compassion arise in this world, and few are the servants willing to go where only the compassionate will go. But the right ones do go, and we pray that the ones who might be extrinsically motivated might think twice.
Compassion can be a harsh taskmaster. It requires an indefatigable commitment, which is importantly inner-wired.
The journey to and with compassion is awkward and arduous. The only person who should go with the weak, the hurting, and the vulnerable is the person who has endured these things; who has found the way through.
Compassion is no glamorous road. It’s dusty and dirty and it can be drudgery. But praise God that compassion is the only way a wounded healer can go.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.