Monday, September 19, 2005

Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life

Henri Nouwen's book is my meat these days. Notes, journaling, prayer and patience. To practice patience is to experience compassion. We step out of clock time and enter timeless moments when we greet our circumstances with deliberate patience. We offer ourselves and those who are given to us at any moment the space to live the holy Spirit and find that salvation is present in the space we give one another. There is never a wasted time. Prayer becomes our patience and our compassionate hold on others, even our enemies. It is the space where we know all things are possible with God and our physical separation is not a hinderance to this outpouring of a compassionate God.
Compassion lives in mature community life in the midst of two poles: displacement and togetherness. Displacement: to move from the proper place to a place that is not comfortable, admitting that we cannot know the right way to live on our own. Nouwen explains that we "must begin to identify in our lives where displacement is already occurring". This is the place where we hear God's call. Solidarity forms around this call and we can speak and listen to the healing voice of Christ all around us. We no longer need to hurry though the moment in front of us, receiving God in the time. Patience is an action of faith, that often calls us to specific action in which compassion is revealed rather than our power.

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