Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Answer is Compassion

Activist Dorothy Day once remarked how we all imagine ourselves to be so wicked, when really we’re just ordinary people who stumble from time to time and try to do what’s right.

I heard it said that we should “Just assume the answer to every question is compassion.” Can you imagine a worldview colored by that philosophy?

I am not a theologian, but I’ve come to believe through my own experience, shortcomings, and stumbles that what God wants most is for us to be madly in love with life. Whoever we are, whatever our background or beliefs, God I imagine yearns for us to yearn for kinship. I think God beckons us to trust that he trusts us in what is needed to fall madly in love with life. We are tasked with recognizing where God dwells, not only "out there" but in our own being and in the existence of all those we encounter.

I went to a talk by Greg Boyle earlier this year where he said that “The Lord comes to us disguised as ourselves. We do come to believe that we grow into this. The only thing we know about Jesus growing up is he grew in age, and wisdom, and favor with God. But do we really grow in favor with God? Did Jesus become increasingly more favorable to God or did he just discover over time that he was holy, favorable?” It is perhaps in this spirit of compassion we are called to view ourselves, and view those around us.

If we are to assume compassion is the answer to every question, then at once we stand less in judgment of the burden “the other” carries and more in awe that they are able to carry it at all. And we also cleanse ourselves of the shame in which we view our own stumbles and shortcomings. Liberated to just be present to life, we understand what so often evades us in this culture: we are worthy of love not for what we are able to do but simply for being who we are. Like Father G says, we live ever present to the possibility of living our way into a new way of thinking, a thinking that recognizes we didn’t grow more favorable to God; we just discovered how favorable we have been all along.

This reflection came about from reading Greg Boyle's Tattoos on the Heart. I highly recommend it.

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