Compassion in community

Atlas, it's time for your bath

Photo credit: woodleywonderworks, creative commons

The same Sarah that I mentioned in a previous post, came to visit me, so I’m finally reading her favorite book, Compassion by Henri Nouwen. She sent it to me months ago, and I read a few chapters but got distracted by life. I wish I would have read it sooner, I see why it’s her favorite book.

One of the most tragic events of our time is that we know more than ever before about the pains and sufferings of the world and yet are less and less able to respond to them… Can we really expect a compassionate response from the millions of individuals who read the paper during breakfast, listen to the radio on the way to work, and watch television after returning home tired from their work in offices or factories? Can we reasonably expect compassion from the many isolated individuals who are constantly being reminded in the privacy of their homes or cars of the vast extent of human suffering?… When there is no community that can mediate between world needs and personal responses, the burden of the world can only be a crushing burden… The Christian community mediates between the suffering of the world and our individual responses to this suffering. Nouwen, Henri. Compassion. P. 51, 53.

That’s from the chapter on Community, which just feels me up to the brim full of smiles. Nouwen continues to describe how, when we are following God’s call in our lives within community, we tend to disappear. We give more of ourselves to Christ and to the world because we’re not trying to save the world, but give to it.

Questions to ponder:

  1. What are you doing to live a compassionate life?

  2. Relationships take effort and pursuit. Are you investing in the creating of community? If not, why not?


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