Tag Archives: compassion

More on Compassion and Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, October 28, 2018

compassion - in His steps

More on Compassion and Prayer

Father Nouwen had such insights. I’ve read a number of his book, and I am amazed at each one. Such simplicity, and such clarity of expression. The words with which he discusses the close relationship of compassion and prayer—so straight-forward. Even simple. (But NOT easy to do. Very rarely that.)

“Risks are involved. For compassion means to build a bridge to others without know whether they want to be reached.” [1] Bridge-building is definitely a trusting exercise of good faith. However, without the building of bridges, individuals would still be separated by walls and moats of their own making.

I fear that bitter feelings are often the dividers between individuals and groups. “Your brother or sister might be so embittered that he or she doesn’t expect anything from you. Then your compassion stirs up enmity, and it is difficult not to become sour yourself and say, “You see what I told you, it doesn’t work anyhow.” [2]

As I consider Father Nouwen, I cannot help but see him as someone with clarity of speech and insight. Someone who wrote many books, and touched many lives. How can someone like that not be a builder of bridges?

When we pray, we can try to build bridges. Each of us can strive to show compassion, to trust in God and in God’s love and caring. Is this easy? No, so in the least. Is this necessary? Only if we would like to be caring, compassionate individuals.

Dear Lord, help me show Your caring and love, in compassion and by building bridges. God, it doesn’t matter whether I build verbal bridges, bridges of relationship, or actual, concrete bridges to cross from one side to the other. Gracious God, bless each of us today, and encourage us to reach out in compassion. Amen.

 

@chaplaineliza

 

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Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 96.

[2] Ibid.

Compassion, Born of Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, October 21, 2018

compassion, cursive

Compassion, Born of Prayer

“If your compassion is born of prayer, it is born of your meeting with God who is also the God of all people.” [1] Wow. Father Nouwen certainly has a way of hitting his points home. And I mean, hitting me right between the eyes.

As the election and campaign rhetoric here in the United States heats up more and more, I notice the opposing parties becoming more and more nasty. I have even seen some candidates use inflammatory language toward others who have different skin color, or countries of origin, or the opposite side of the train tracks. Would Fr. Nouwen’s definitive statement (quoted above) inflame matters even further?

As I read this page, Henri Nouwen clearly states that when his readers “fully realize that the God who loves you unconditionally loves all your fellow human beings with the same love,” [2] then and only then does a new way of living open to any of us who have this realization.

Alas, as sinful, fallen humans, we can be terribly nasty to one another, and even get violent. The precise reasons why do not matter. It is the inner garden of love—that of intimate prayer—that Fr. Nouwen talks about. Hiding and skulking does not do any good. Unless you and I take the opportunity to acquaint ourselves with meeting God intimately in prayer, we could quite possibly miss this marvelous chance. We could completely miss this intimate relationship that God offers freely, to anyone who opens themselves to God.

This intimate conversation with a loving God, therefore, “means a simultaneous conversion to the other persons who live with you on this earth.” [3] Fr. Nouwen reels off a varied list, among whom are the worker, the prisoner, the farmer, the sick, the oppressor, the oppressed, the patient and the healer—in short, just about any person you might think of. In other words, ALL people. Every person. God is a God for ALL people.

I pray for all people who are divided, in terms of politics, at this election time of the year. I pray that people may rise above the division and the inflamed rhetoric, and seek the face of God. I pray that we might fully realize that God is, indeed, a God for ALL people. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 94.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 95.

Praying, Sharing Humanity

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, October 13, 2018

compassion, word cloud

Praying, Sharing Humanity

Compassion. That’s what today’s section of Henri Nouwen’s book With Open Hands is all about. Amazing insight with such brevity. Father Nouwen says such sensible things, I cannot believe they never crossed my mind before. Like, “Compassion grown with the inner recognition that your neighbor shares your humanity with you.” [1]

I cannot help but compare Father Nouwen’s words here with the basic outlook and principles behind Fred Rogers’ treatment and attitude towards everyone he dealt with. It did not matter what sort of person Mister Rogers met—age, height, ability, ethnicity, status (or lack of status), or any other kind of difference or separation. Those differences did not matter to Fred Rogers. I do not think those differences or separations mattered to Father Nouwen, either.

Fr. Nouwen clearly states “Across all barriers of land and language, wealth and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, we are one, created from the same dust, subject to the same laws, and destined for the same end.” [2] I don’t know how Fr. Nouwen was able to do that, but there was an equitable, caring, open attitude he had towards everyone he encountered, just as there was with Mister Rogers. That kind, caring attitude and openness are what I strive for, God willing.

Yet, compassion—according to Fr. Nouwen—is not only a positive, warm, fuzzy kind of expression and emotion. Compassion “also means sharing in joy, which can be just as important as sharing in pain.” [3]

Yes, we are human; yes, we all have the experience of pain. Some people experience pain more often than others. Yes, I have sat with individuals who go through painful episodes in their lives regularly. I know some have inner anguish, others have physical pain. Those painful emotions and situations did not make Fr. Nouwen care for those people less. Those negative experiences caused Mister Rogers to care even more for children and adults alike.

Dear God, when I grow up, I want to be like Fred Rogers. I want to have the attitude of Henri Nouwen. Help me—help us to offer others real support and comfort from our hearts. For real, not with false faces or fake feelings. Thank You for giving us such excellent examples as Henri Nouwen and Fred Rogers.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 92.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 93.

Praying, Helping, As God Would Have Us

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, August 29, 2017

HELP help people even if they can't help back

Praying, Helping, As God Would Have Us

Hurricane Harvey touched down on the Texas coast several days ago. Since then, catastrophic winds, wild weather, and especially flooding have overwhelmed southern Texas. And, Harvey is not done yet. By no means.

As Harvey continues to wend its way north and east, the deluge of rain continues, all up and down that part of the United States. I pray for all of those affected, and their loved ones. I pray for all first responders. I pray for all of those who are working in logistical support. And especially, I pray for all health care personnel. Those caring for physical health, yes! Also for those who care for mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual health.

I am going to interrupt my reflections on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book Meditating on the Word, instead considering a passage from a short book Bonhoeffer wrote for and about the young men in the secret seminary in Germany, Finkenwalde. Life Together.

Let me say, first of all, that I have not seen accounts of very many people in Texas acting in the way Pastor Dietrich describes. Being so heavenly-minded they are no earthly good, so to speak.

The passage from Life Together: “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks…” [1]

However, as I read this passage myself, I realized how tempting and how needed this reminder is. Not only for pastors and seminary professors, but also for Joe and Jane Christian. “It is a strange fact that Christians and even ministers frequently consider their work so important and urgent that they allow nothing to disturb them.” [2]

Pastor Dietrich is correct. Sometimes, I suspect many people just do not see what is in front of their noses. Therefore, Bonhoeffer felt strongly that he needed to make this warning. As I considered Hurricane Harvey and many well-meaning religious people near and far, I reflected on their tunnel vision. Yes, even these folks consider their work, their business, so important that they allow nothing to turn them from it. Even a hurricane.

The tremendous outpouring of compassion, caring and love for the people of Texas and surrounding affected areas is something we all can get behind. Yes, we can pray. Certainly! Prayer is a way of showing love and concern, of that we can be sure. In addition, we can do what Jesus did and show love with our actions—with time, talent and treasure. Please, consider donating to some worthy disaster relief ministry. (My church and I are contributing to UCC Disaster Ministries. I also know that Presbyterian Disaster Relief and Catholic Relief are also excellent choices.)

Dear Lord, we do pray for all those affected by this hurricane and its aftermath. Lord, be the refuge and strength for many, many people to run to. Thank You, dear Lord. It’s in Your mercy we all pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 99.

[2] Ibid.

Hannah More, from the Heart

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 25, 2017

1 Cor 10-13 no temptation

Hannah More, from the Heart

Hannah More lived from 1745 to 1833, and was known as a poet, playwright and writer. She was noted in English literary circles, but was uncomfortable with the literary scene. Increasingly evangelical and spiritual, she became more and more active against slavery. She also became well known as a Christian writer, and began schools for poor children in the area near Bristol.

In the excerpt in this anthology, Hannah More wrote about Practical Piety, talking about small virtues and small faults. “The acquisition of even the smallest virtue is actually a conquest over the opposite vice and doubles our moral strength.” [1]

This brings to mind the verse from 1 Corinthians 10, where Paul reminds us that God provides a way out from any temptation that overtakes us. More gives further explanation about several faults. Procrastination, indecision, idleness, vanity, irritability, and trifling. “He who made us best knows of what we are made. Our compassionate High Priest will bear with much infirmity and will pardon much involuntary weakness.” [2]

More tells us that if we—fallible us—do acts of service, those acts bear the true character of the love of God. Upon reflection, Richard Foster says that “these thousands upon thousands of little actions of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit slowly but surely change our heart. More than any other thing, the small corners of life reveal who we really are.” [3]

Dear God, thank You for giving fallible-me some hope. Compassionate Lord, help me to act in righteous ways, full of peace and joy. Hear me, I pray.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, 347.

[2] Ibid, 349.

[3] Ibid, 351.

Adolfo Quezada, Confession and Compassion

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, April 18, 2017

compassion heart

Adolfo Quezada, Confession and Compassion

Adolfo Quezada is a licensed professional counselor in California. He has published several books, and is a loving, caring, supportive counselor. He specializes particularly in depression, anxiety, grief and trauma. He also leads prayer retreats.

As I alluded to in the title of this post, Quezada is all for letting go of what happened in people’s individual lives. There is the negative side: things people have said, done or thought. Quezada recommends: “Make restitution as best you can in ways that bring healing and restore harmony to your life and lives of those you have hurt.” [1]

I read Quezada’s profound statement, “When you accept God’s love, you also accept God’s forgiveness.” [2] This is truly life-changing, for some people. People who feel that whatever they might have done was so terribly awful that God would never forgive them, and—guess what? God really will forgive us. Even more so than flawed parents who sometimes interfere with their children and even reject them, God will never, ever reject us.

Then, I noticed this gut-wrenching statement: “Reconsider your expectations. Examine the demands you make on yourself. Are they realistic? What do you base them on?” [3] Ah, so painful. So much pain in these few words. God will help us all with those faulty, unrealistic expectations. We all can gain access to God’s immeasurable, bountiful love and mercy.

I can—we all can—experience God’s love. Generous and unconditional. Do you feel unworthy? Or, perhaps, disgruntled at someone, so you have something blocking you from God’s love? Nevertheless, God loves you. Abundantly, immeasurably, marvelously, God’s love lasts forever. Amazing love and grace and mercy.  Alleluia.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 246.

[2] Ibid, 247.

[3] Ibid.

Dorothy Day: One who Served Well

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, April 9, 2017

SERVE do something for those who can't repay

Dorothy Day: One who Served Well

A good many people know of Dorothy Day, of her love for the poor and her lifelong work in social settings that were gritty, ugly, even heartbreaking. She began as a journalist, converted to Catholicism, and started publishing a small newspaper called “The Catholic Worker” which shook large parts of the American society. (Especially the managers and owners of different companies and corporate leaders.)

However, some people do not know about how increasingly important Christianity had become to Ms. Day. “Her Christianity was deeply formed by prayer and study of the Gospels.” [1] Plus, she always strives to live exactly the way that our Lord Jesus lived, showing compassion, care and mercy to all she could, in such desperate and hopeless situations.  It takes someone with a strong stomach and constitution to read the words Ms. Day writes in her memoir.

“Yes, we have lived with the poor, with the workers, and we know them not just from the streets, or in mass meetings, but from years of living in the slums, in tenements, in our hospices…We have lived with the unemployed, the sick, the unemployables. The contrast between the worker who is organized and has his union, the fellowship of his own trade to give him strength, and those who have no organization and come in to us on a breadline is pitiable.” [2]

Ms. Day could not turn away from these horrible situations, duplicated time and time and time again. Instead, she suggests that people of all levels of society show strength and fortitude, through the most desperate places, happenings, and lack of resources. Why not give downtrodden, down-and-out Americans, a real opportunity? And, enough food, shelter and dignity to hold mind and body together?

Dear Lord, help me to sit with this example of Dorothy Day for a while, and then to act. To do, to listen, to walk with, to accomplish needed and valued gifts and activities. And at last, my Judge will be the King from Matthew 25. I know what my marching orders are. Lord, give me the strength, the willingness, and the love and mercy necessary. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 211.

[2] Ibid, 212.