Tag Archives: compassion

Empathy betters society

By Blogger Daryl Geffken

Daryl Geffken

Value, or mutual respect, of each member of an organization is necessary because it is through our social construct that we learn. By valuing each element of a society, the ability to learn, adapt and bear significance is increased. Such value is communicated through sincerity and authenticity, through allowing for time to increase understanding, through deep listening that honors another’s perspective and encourages permission to speak freely, and a destruction of a system where certain members are deemed more necessary, more valuable than others.

In the Christian tradition, the theme of disparity appears frequently. Compassion and empathy drive Jesus’ view. Jesus upholds the principle that care for human beings is more valuable than attaining material wealth and comfort. Jesus asked, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Luke 9:25). One researcher suggests Jesus finally closed the gap between the haves and have-nots: In opposition to ownership, humanity is responsible for stewardship of the earth (Lev. 25:23-24). Humanity is given responsibility to do what is best for the planet. But currently, our world community plays favorites. Anchorwoman Susan Moeller is quoted as saying, “In the news business, one dead fireman in Brooklyn is worth five English bobbies, who are worth fifty Arabs, who are worth five hundred Africans.”

Jesus condemned “the rich fool” not because he was rich but because he was so naive as to believe that great wealth involved no social and economic responsibilities (Luke 12:21). Clearly there exists a culpability of leaders within a Christian context to live into and present the servant leadership modeled by Jesus for others to consider. We are not called to lead in a dogmatic manner, but in the humility that comes from understanding the true value of people and the world’s environment. Jesus encouraged his followers to be the change they hoped for, to enact an economy that was a fuller expression of God’s will.

Jesus himself is portrayed to be a master storyteller, many times bringing his listeners face to face with the issue of disparity through the use of narrative and analogy.

One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied with a story, “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here. Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

This is the second in a three-part series.
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What a Husky can teach a Cougar about compassion

By Contributor Daryl Geffken

Editor’s Note: This week SpokaneFAVS contributors are exploring the definition of compassion. Read Monday’s panel on this topic here.

Daryl Geffken

I am a Husky. For some, that may have been the last line they read. For you brave enough to continue, I’d like to share a story from a day I recently had.

As you might imagine, I am fairly reticent to share my allegiance to my Alma Mater in a town like Spokane. I have had my UW sticker scraped off my car more than a few times.  I’m proud of the school that provided me opportunity, but I struggle with the snap judgment that comes from some folks with the label, “Husky.” So I have decided I will slowly share my purple pride with people.  I work on relationships first, so that when others become aware of the depth of my Montlake Madness, there is a foundation of friendship. In fact, I am drawn to folks equally passionate about their schools, even if they are rivals.

Photo courtesy of the University of Washington

My office is a great spot. I work at a place where Cougars, Zags and Huskies all seem to get along. We share a friendly rivalry in sports.  More than that, we share our lives together and a growing friendship. So the other day, I blurted from my office door to my Cougar friend that Cal lost over the weekend, thereby putting the Husky men’s basketball team in first place of the Pac-12 for the moment. My timing sucked. Royally. I walked into the common area and into a conversation between my friend and a few others I did not recognize.  They looked at me quizzically and it was explained that I was a Husky. And then it happened — the look; a scornful look on the face of a person I have never met, but who had somehow sized up me or my affiliation to a brand name and decided that she knew me, all of me, and it was found lacking. “Cheaters,” she spit. And that was it.

My last post talked about compassion as sharing life with others, collecting their stories to the point that we walk with them rather than talk about them. We must connect ourselves with the lives of others — others we would typically not choose.  I believe our compassion grows in relation to its direct contact with suffering. We must find ways of engaging and deeply listening to the stories of others and then finding creative ways to allow those stories to find a larger voice. I also suggested that Jesus refocused people on what was important to God, not what had become acceptable to them.  Jesus and his followers frequently challenge an attitude of privilege. One of Jesus’ main emphases was to treat people with value, so much so, that Jesus personally identified himself with the marginalized. The very manner of Jesus’ life reveals a literal identification with the poor and marginalized.

Jesus was born to migrant parents out of wedlock. The stigma this carried with it in Jewish culture at the time was severe. Tradition holds that he was born in a cave meant for feeding livestock and was celebrated by shepherds, some of the country’s lowest-class citizens, and foreigners that practiced astronomy — a taboo in Jewish society. At his circumcision, his parents offered a sacrifice of two pigeons — a Levitical concession offered to only the poorest class of citizen (Leviticus 12:1-8). Jesus and his family fled their nation as political refugees (Matthew 2:13-18), seeking asylum in a foreign country.

Jesus was homeless (Luke 9:58), and relied solely on the contribution of others to maintain his itinerant call (Luke 8:1-3). He was declared a state criminal and arrested. His trial displayed a flagrant abuse of the justice system of the day, having been tried in secrecy and without defense, physically beaten during the proceedings, disregarded by a politician that caved to popular sentiment despite finding no sufficient grounds for condemnation and tortured before his execution. He died without a single possession and was laid to rest in a donated grave. In “Generous Justice” Tim Keller said, “In all these ways, Jesus identifies with the millions of nameless people who have been wrongfully imprisoned, robbed of their possessions, tortured, and slaughtered.” The Bible records even after his death and resurrection Jesus continued to identify with the marginal. According to the gospel of Luke, Jesus chose to first reveal his resurrected self to women; those so discounted that in legal matters their testimony had no merit.

Judith Butler suggested that judging people is a form of emotional violence. By assuming you know another person denies them the ability to change, develop or grow beyond your expectations. Here’s my point:  Jesus could have come into the world in any way imaginable. He chose this lowly status, and lived it out. He chose not to disdain others but looked at them with hope of a redeemed future.

Is it too far a stretch to attempt a connection between an interaction based on a sports rivalry and the manner by which Jesus entered into creation? Probably.  But at the risk of reversing my initial title, you want to know what this Husky learned from his Cougar friend when she stepped into my righteous indignation towards the woman I felt had belittled my existence by judging me? am wrong to dismiss another person on the basis of one action.

Compassion is kid’s play

By Contributor Ernesto Tinajero

Editor’s Note: This week SpokaneFAVS contributors are exploring the definition of compassion. Read Monday’s panel on this topic here.

Ernesto Tinajero

Toddlers stumble. It defines them. Sometimes they get up and continue to play. Other times the tears flow. My 2-year-old is no different; he falls, bumps and cries. We call bumps bonks. With a minor bumps he will say that he got a bonk. After a particular nasty fall or bonk, his cries mutate into screams; words fail him. No words come out, only an intense growl from the depths of his tiny lungs.

My wife and I found a ritual to help calm him. We ask, “Did you get a bonk?” He answers the question with a simple word, “yeah.”

His “yeah” arises as the storm of tears and the water pouring from his eyes become still. He feels the pain, but he is not alone.

Having his parents understand his pain makes his pain bearable and his recovery quicker. The power of compassion is knowing our pain doesn’t mean we have to be isolated by it. Knowing someone is willing to walk with us during the time of pain makes pain bearable.

Compassion shares a particular facet with words like love, freedom and peace. Few people argue against compassion, freedom or peace. Yet, they seem rare in the world. We seem to be for them in the abstract, but in moments of existence when we should practice compassion, practice peace or avoid oppression, we choose the very opposite. We avoid the pain of others. We go through life with our fists up. We wish those that disagree with us would just shut up. If a person does metamorphose into freedom, love, peace or compassion then we view them as both noble and paradoxically, threatening.  Jesus ended up on a cross for advocating things we all agree are good in theory, but do the opposite in our dealing with others.

Compassion rightly occupies the center of the Christian faith. The Incarnation emphasizes God being with us. Knowing God suffers and understands our suffering forges a bond with God, making the pain bearable and our recovery quicker.

Compassion also has been at the center of criticism of Christianity over the years. Jiddu Krishnamurti, the influential spiritual writer, echoes the dominant complaint of Christianity saying it is the worship of suffering. Compassion, which means suffering with, seems like wallowing in suffering. How can this preoccupation with suffering and joining in with another’s suffering be healthy for anybody’s spirit? Would it not be better to ease the suffering of another rather joining in with their suffering? Good questions. Ones that Christians have been grappling with for two millennium.

I could try to add to this conversation, and all I have is not the grandeur of lofty ideas, but the steadiness of my experience. I have seen my son relieved from having someone understand his pain. The deepest relationships I have with my wife, my friends and my family are ones I have shared and they have shared with their pain. And here is the mystery of the cross; compassion is not staying on the cross, but the path to Easter. Or in other words, compassion wallows not in suffering, rather it goes to the place of suffering to become love. The dark does not overcome us; it turns to light.

We stumble. It defines us. Sometimes we get up and continue to play. Other times our tears flow. We need someone who will understand our pain, wipe our tears, and turn our suffering into joy.

Compassion is calling all angels, even the ‘others’

By Contributor Rev. Marj Johnston

Editor’s Note: This week SpokaneFAVS contributors are exploring the definition of compassion. Read Monday’s panel on this topic here.

Rev. Marj Johnston

Compassion is something I just expected I would learn and practice all my life. It falls under the “do unto others” category, right after “love God and love your neighbors” — both more and more often discerning pieces in choosing what to say and what to do in response to Jesus’ words and building relationships with others.

Compassion seems to be about acting toward, and on behalf of, others out of empathy and sympathy. In all my professional elements I’ve learned to be a “non-anxious presence” when I need to be, staving emotions and feelings for more “appropriate” moments with God or another who can process with me.

Compassion has been something exercised on behalf of others. “Others,” as designated by all that separates us in our human conditions: the haves and the have-nots; those who believe and those who don’t; the homeless, the jobless and the uninsured and those who have everything because they played by the rules, or at least didn’t break most of them. Those “others” who love people of the same gender or who know they are not the gender the world perceives them being; those “others” who are questioning just who it is who will love them for all of who they are instead of who they aren’t. Those “others” who are held at arm’s length, literally and figuratively, from gathering in places of worship and from the table where sustenance is offered in grain and grape, reminders of brokenness, healing and the new covenant.

For me, it seems that in order to be compassionate with others, one also must allow for compassion for oneself, tending one’s own soul in order to be attentive to the Holy within who is calling us to live out our life and faith in and with compassion for those we meet. In the recent fray of moving from what has been home for 17 years to another parish and community, it’s possible that I packed my compassion in an unmarked moving box.

So Lent and these remaining days until Easter offer opportunities for me to come before the holy one who has created me in God’s own image. It offers me a time to be gentle with my soul, to find healing of things I know I’ve stashed in the back of my mind and my heart, and clear space so I can be as present as possible to the people I meet in this place and in this time.

Music is an exercise in compassion for my soul, evoking images and touching my spirit in unique ways. In anticipation of meeting God in new ways during Lent, I created a playlist for my MP3 player and determined to sit in the quiet of the sanctuary for at least 30 minutes each work day. The first three pieces are chants from Taizé, selected to set a tone through “Veni Sancte Spiritus” (Come, Holy Spirit), “My Soul is at Rest” and “Wait for the Lord.”

The next is a favorite, Jane Siberry and KD Lang singing “Calling All Angels;” An odd shift yet deeply provoking. I’ve listened to the piece often and in various settings, generally singing along while doing any number of things. Today, the song began with the familiar hushed recitation of names of saints. Unfamiliar was that while sitting alone in a new (to me) sanctuary, something shifted. Not a literal something, but the air, a presence — the blessed presence.

“A man is placed upon the steps, a baby cries, and high above the church bells start to ring…” Images from a noon worship experience at St. Matthew’s in Washington, D.C. in 1983 rushed into my mind. “And as the heaviness, the body, oh the heaviness settles in somewhere you can hear a mother sing….” Visuals of mothers and elderly men and women sitting on stoops in the August heat in the Adams Morgan neighborhood in D.C. popped up as I remembered counting blocks of row houses as I rode the Metro from downtown to Silver Spring. “Then it’s one foot then the other as you step out onto the road … how much weight? How much weight? Then it’s how long? And how far? And many times before it’s too late?” Mental snapshots of people I met on the streets in Bellingham while they waited for a hitched ride to Vancouver or Seattle, people in Chicago’s southside neighborhood of Kenwood-Oakwood and Humboldt Park, a man in my childhood hometown whom we called “Raincoat” whose home was a rundown motel room, a mother and young son who routinely came for breakfast at the soup kitchen, a woman whose bruises moved around her face and her arms throughout the month, the sunken staring eyes of one so addicted to street drugs — the broken relationships of my past.

At the first “calling all angels” my mind was flooded with images of people who have lost their lives to physical, emotional and mental battles, some at the hands of others, and then the faces of those who have been verbally, emotionally and spiritually wrestled away from church because of any number of things lodged against them. “Calling all angels, walk me through this one … don’t leave me alone …” Thirty years of life and ministry I had steeled away in my head and my heart came undone. “Calling all angels, calling all angels, we’re cryin’ and we’re hurtin’ and we’re not sure why…”

Oh, I knew why. Jesus was the model of compassion in a way I can only hope to be. And “Jesus wept” writes John (11:35). Veni sancte spiritus indeed. God-with-us. God-with-me. To some I am an “other.” To God I am beloved, created in the image of the Holy One, reconciled by the incarnate and sustained by the spirit. Called to serve, given tools and examples to go and do likewise, holding compassion for others, including myself, sharing hope from the one who is himself Compassion.

Compassion is a verb

By Contributor R. Skyler Oberst

Editor’s Note: This week SpokaneFAVS contributors are exploring the definition of compassion. Read Monday’s panel on this topic here.

R. Skyler Oberst

I have a confession to make. I have an intellectual crush on Karen Armstrong. I’ve read most of her books and think she is brilliant. So brilliant, in fact, I would buy a poster of her to hang on my wall, if they made them. But I digress. I say this because I am already on board with compassion and how it can cultivate a lasting change in the heart as well as the community (Armstrong is the creator of Charter for Compassion).

Compassion for me is not just a feeling, but an active reaction to suffering around us. This term is so loaded nowadays it has lost some of its meaning. So many people equate it with sympathy, or empathy. Compassion means to act. Only when we act out of compassion do we begin to realize compassion is the purest and delightfully simplest path to understanding what it means to be human and how to make the world a better place.

Compassion is not for the weak and cannot be understood from the hilltops of tolerance or countenance. It shouldn’t be thought of as a “warm and fuzzy feeling” or something that can be found in a John Lennon song. The key to truly unlocking compassion, to fully grasp its depth and power, you have to selflessly act for others. It is a lifelong journey that will enrich the lives around you and benefit your own life as well.

Whether you are religious or non-religious, compassion is the sole emotional response that defines who we are as humans and it will be the leading force behind making the world a better place.

Jesus lived a compassionate life

By Contributor Daryl Geffken

Editor’s Note: This week SpokaneFAVS contributors are exploring the definition of compassion. Read Monday’s panel on this topic here.

Daryl Geffken

Compassion is sharing life with others, collecting their stories to the point that we walk with them rather than talk about them.  We must connect ourselves with the lives of others — others we would typically not choose.  I believe our compassion grows in relation to its direct contact with suffering.  We must find ways of engaging and deeply listening to the stories of others and then finding creative ways to allow those stories to find a larger voice.

I believe Jesus refocused people on what was important to God, not what had become acceptable to them.  Jesus and his followers frequently challenge an attitude of privilege.  Compassion and empathy drive Jesus’ view.  He upholds the principle that caring for people is more valuable than attaining material wealth and comfort, asking, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Luke 9:25).  Jesus finally closed the gap between the haves and have-nots: In opposition to the concept of ownership, humanity is expected to be responsible for stewardship of the earth (Lev. 25:23-24).  It is given responsibility to do what is best for the planet and all who inhabit it.

One of Jesus’ main emphases was to treat people with value. Theologians have worked to establish Jesus’ authority and divinity.  He is a necessary and unique part of the triune God of Christianity.  Jesus clearly asserted his own authority and status as son of God.  Yet he also defined his identity as a servant, giving his life for others as the “son of man.”  Jesus demonstrated the rule of God always opposes the other gods and powers that seek to enslave humans.

Ultimately, Jesus’ authority is based upon his death on a cross, suffering as the servant Messiah prophesied by Isaiah.  Jesus’ kingdom was one based on authenticity and compassion, rather than oppression, which was demonstrated through welcoming love and liberating service to others.  Reading through the Gospel narratives of Jesus’ teaching through word and example confirms Jesus held a high regard for the value of people. This foundational value affected not only his actions, but his expectations of those who follow him as well.  He was clear in challenging his audience to live in holistic responsibility to others.  From this, it can be shown that Jesus desired a more egalitarian society than he encountered.  It can be argued that this is applicable today.

PANEL: How do you define compassion?

By Tracy Simmons
SpokaneFAVS.com

Editor’s note: This is the first of many posts that will be published about compassion this week.

Karin Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion is a few years old now. But her accompanying book “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life” continues to make its way into church study groups.

Compassion, Armstrong points out, is at the root of all religions.

We asked the SpokaneFAVS panelists about it.

How do you define compassion? What does your faith teach you about being compassionate?

Diane Kipp

I define compassion as a love that is felt in the soul and that motivates us to act on another’s behalf.  It is a deep concern for another’s trial, misfortune or difficulty, accompanied by a sincere desire to help that is translated into action whenever possible.  My faith teaches me compassion is It. It’s a big one, a quality that God the Father and his Son, Jesus, value in us most highly.

Matthew 22:36-40 tells us the first and greatest commandments are to love the Lord God and then to love our neighbors as ourselves.  In Matthew 25 are some of my favorite scripture verses (though I admit, I have many favorites). Jesus tells us those who inherit his kingdom are those who feed the hungry, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and “come unto” the prisoners (I find it interesting that his concern isn’t for the unjustly imprisoned, it’s for all prisoners).  He doesn’t tell us to feel bad for the hungry, sick, etc. He wants us to be the change in their lives.  And most marvelous of all, anytime we do the tiniest act of service for each other, we are directly serving him and pleasing him — that is how much he loves us.

The word “compassion” is used about 20 times in the King James version of the New Testament, usually in reference to Christ having compassion on his followers or on a specific individual.  And, of course, there is the great parable about compassion — The Good Samaritan.  I’m sure you know that story but unless you’ve read it within the last week or two, it’s worth reading again, carefully, with attention.

Rev. Bill Ellis

Compassion is a feeling for, and an understanding of the pain and suffering of another person, and a consequent effort to alleviate it.  Without the effort to change the circumstances that cause the suffering, compassion is mere pity, so action is an important part of compassion.  Compassion is thus what might be considered a “core” component of faith as I understand it.  Nearly as a matter of definition, people without compassion are, essentially, sociopaths;  they have no feel for or concern with anything or anyone that does not directly impact them; the only suffering they care about at all is their own.  Thus, from a human point of view compassion is an essential aspect of the continued survival of humanity.  A friend of mine once said if we run out of compassion before we run out of gunpowder we are all doomed.  Even if that aphorism is not literally true, it gets to the point.  Power, untempered by compassion, quickly becomes totalitarian and violent.

Theologically, in our tradition we view compassion as originating in God and flowing through humanity, not just Christians, by the way, but people in general.  Where we see genuine compassion, there we see the work of God whether that compassion is being practiced by Christians or not.

Rev. Bill Ellis

Rev. Alan Eschenbacher

Compassion, for me, is a part of understanding the relational aspect of my life with all people. We are all connected on this, in cosmic terms, on this very small planet we call earth and we are all responsible for each other in some way or another. That responsibility can be seen as compassion or love or whatever you think is appropriate.  I know many people would argue the “responsible for others” point, citing privacy, personal responsibility, nationalism and patriotism and whatever other ism they can think of in order to avoid taking responsibility for the “least of these” in this world. Looking with compassion on our neighbors is what we are called to do and I can say that for Christians and many other world religions as well. Deep down we all know we have to take care of each other, especially as the world grows, community is only possible if everyone plays the game, those that can play the game more effectively need to help those that cannot. Setting up barriers and judging those who can’t play is not compassion and it’s not our job.

Rev. Alan Eschenbacher

Daya Goldschlag

I think Zen Buddhist practice  is based strongly in compassion.  It arises naturally when you understand you are not separate from any other sentient being. One of my bodywork teachers said, “If you find yourself disliking a patient just stand for a moment by the massage table with their head gently held in your hands and imagine who they were as a newborn baby and what they went through in their life to make them who they are now.  You will find yourself filled with compassion.” I also notice that I distance myself, or judge people and thus distance myself, when I have some fear or insecurity of them or the situation. I try to observe when I am turning away from someone and look inside myself for the reason, or at least observe the turning away and/or judgment of them; best not to judge myself either but just observe my reaction. Doing all that somehow dissipates the fear and the judgment and allows space for connection.  This doesn’t mean one can’t be discerning. Because you have compassion for someone doesn’t mean you want to hang out with them. I think while fear and judgment have the upper hand there isn’t much room for compassion for oneself or others.

Daya Goldschlag

Pastor Eric Blauer

For me, compassion is  when mercy and justice kiss in my life.

Mercy says, “What can I do?”
Justice says, “Why did this happen?”
Full-bloomed compassion is at work when both of these realities are being worked upon.
As Martin Luther King Jr. taught, effective compassion vs. sentimentality is happening when we are pulling the drowning out of the river and going upstream and dealing with what, or who, is causing people to end up in the river.

Dr. Karin Heller

Compassion is, for me, more about deeds than words or sentiments. Compassion is to act in favor of whatever living being. A compassionate action does not depend on one’s moods. A person can be compassionate and be in a bad mood. One has to learn to be compassionate with oneself and with all other living beings. Compassion is always life-giving. Life can be given in tender as well as in rough ways. Surgery can be an act of compassion as well as a hug. Compassion is an act of courage or determination. It’s not just a natural feeling in us. Compassion is a divine attribute. Jesus’ words and deeds, as recorded in the gospels, embody divine compassion in a human way.

Or as the Letter to the Hebrews puts it, “It was essential that he (Jesus) should become completely like his brothers so that he could be a compassionate and trustworthy high priest of God’s religion, able to atone for human sins. That is, because he has himself been through temptation he is able to help others who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:17-18).

Dr. Karin Heller

Laura Kipp

When I think of compassion, I think of the difference between compassion and empathy.  To me, compassion is when you reach out with your heart and think, “I feel bad that they feel bad.”  Empathy is when you have been there yourself, and you feel bad for someone who is hurting because you really know what they are going through and can be there for them in a greater way because of it.  I think it’s one of the greatest blessings, or silver linings of suffering, to be able to make the load easier for others because you can now empathize, and I think it’s selfish not to do so.  I’ve often heard, for example, in articles about how to help a grieving person, that you should never ever say “I know how you feel.”  Of course you shouldn’t make the conversation about you, but if you truly have had a very similar type of pain, I think it can be immensely valuable, when appropriate, to share, “I actually have been there, and I overcame it.”  It offers hope and banishes the isolation pain can bring.  I believe the greatest example of this is Jesus Christ and the atonement, and I’m grateful to have his paradigm to look to everyday in my life.

Laura Kipp

Lace Williams-Tinajero

More than a lofty ideal for Christians to ponder, compassion is a gift. The word compassion literally means ‘suffer together.’ In the New Testament acts of compassion are acts of mercy. Jesus healed the sick, fed the hungry, raised the dead, taught the crowds, reached out to untouchables. Compassion lets someone know, “You’re not alone.” My son had to have brain and skull surgery at age one to repair a missing portion of his skull and to remove part of a tumor. I felt completely helpless. My son lay in an operating room all day in a children’s hospital, hours from home. After the team of anesthesiologists took him from my arms early that morning, I was unsure what to do next. I wandered around the hospital in a state of shock. Eating was out of the question. Calling people took too much effort. Waiting sucked. Then I looked up. It took a moment to recognize the familiar face before me. It was our pastor at the time. He made a surprise trip to the hospital to be with my husband and me. He stayed by our sides the entire day until our son came through the surgery. The pastor taught me that sheer presence is the hallmark of compassion. No ideal, no words, no pomp. Just presence.

Dr. Lace William-Tinajero