J U L Y
A Seeker s Resource for Spiritual Direction 2 0 1 0
Listen V O L 4 : I S S U E Grateful Compassion
dwells beyond the scope of our attention. Our orientation toward the specifics of life defines who we are.
Yesterday, deep belly breathing calmed my pulse. Tears threatened to splash the cold, dull gray, speckled linoleum floor. Anguish and astonishment smacked my solar plexus, hard. The man I have loved for eighteen years was attempting to walk a straight line. Instructed to position his feet heel to toe, heel to toe, one foot in front of the next, he could only wobble, flail, stumble. The neurologist reached out her pale hands, positioning her body to offer support to a six foot, five inch, active man now dressed in sky blue hospital shorts and a white tee-shirt, unable to walk across the examination room. My knees buckled.
I landed in a chair, grateful for the support. Snippets of inner knowledge married reality, permeating my consciousness. Overwhelmed by the unfolding implications—an earlier meeting with a neurosurgeon, then hours later, an urgent appointment with a neurologist—I sunk into the lyrics of the U2 song, “Grace.” Playing in me for the twentieth time that day, I breathed, “Grace makes beauty out of ugly things / Grace finds beauty in everything / Grace finds goodness in everything.” In this unexpected circumstance, could I trust this?
he relatively tiny details, circumstances, and situations of life always matter. Nothing
Green Violetear—Colibri thalassinus
Connection, trust, and compassion were being called forth in me. My response, I am here.
None of us are spared from pain and suffering. In my mid-forties, I have already experienced my fair share. That evening, images of a vital, vigorous man darted in me, contrasting with the present, undiagnosed, reality. Anguish in me grew, “This too? I didn’t sign up for this. Why do I have to live everything by experience? It’s really not necessary, thank you very much.” I sobbed—for him, for me— and had a temper tantrum with God. Then, befriending my tumultuous emotions, I found a gentle inner smile as compassion flooded within me. I recalled what Brother David Steindl-Rast, OSB, said, “You cannot be grateful for everything, but you can be grateful in every situation.”
I have a choice to make. We each do, everyday. It is in relation to our attitude or orientation toward
bitterness and resentment, or compassion and gratefulness. Nothing is insignificant. Every action, every word, each thought matters. If we want to become fully human and live passionate, discerning, creative, and contemplative lives that contribute to and engage the world, we have a daily choice to make. Our decision will make all the difference, and carry us in times of joy and suffering. A spiritual director can be a good companion when we wrestle with how to live with compassion and gratefulness.
Will you join me to cultivate
compassion for self, others, and the cosmos?
Will you join me to grow kernels
of gratefulness—even for that which appears ugly, unwanted, arrives unannounced, and has every right to grow bitterness in the human heart?
Please, simply say yes. —Pegge Bernecker
SEEDS OF INTEREST: Field Notes: Compassion Poetry: The Path Global Resources Review: Splash
Field Guide: Gratitude
—An Unfinished Work? Ask Owl
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