This week, on Tuesday the 8th, I was lucky enough to celebrate 47 years, in this life I have been living, since I was 23. As I get to different milestones I find myself, like most people, reflecting on what has happened, and what is happening right now. You may well ask the question, "How about the future?". Well, at least for me, the struggle of the present, when your get up and go, has got up and gone, is more than enough challenge for me. When you get old, there is a hidden blessing, because the energy is not there any more, I now have made surviving the present moment my top priority. "Just this moment Lord, just this moment", is the measure of my prayer.
It is great to have no big plans on the horizon, just today, just this moment, is challenge enough for me. I find there is wonderful freedom in that mindset. Not much fodder for the ego, as a matter of fact there is no food for the ego. That does make the ego a very unhappy camper. When the ego is unhappy there is trouble on the horizon. In the meantime there is rest, peace, an appreciation of quiet, and an occasional sense of serenity. Maturing has its blessings. Do not get me wrong, I still have moments of anger, (I do not have to tell you that), wild dreams for the future, grandiosity, just to name a few. A real good dose of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, acts to blow those thoughts and plans to you know where. I have made the following words, of a Gaelic song, more my own each day:
"The cares of tomorrow must wait till this day is done." ''
So serious change has become an obvious reality for me.
The thought of change is now, ever before me. Change, has to do with loss, and gain. That which has been lost, can be more easily seen, and felt. All I have to do is look in the mirror, say two Masses in a row, eat after 5 o clock, and I will become well aware that there has been loss. What has been given, is much harder to decipher. That which has been given, to replace that which has been lost, is not seen in a mirror . It appears in moments of reflection. It appears as we reflect on the wonder-full ordinary moments, of our not so ordinary life. As you well know, there is no ordinary life. There is always the divine, the sacred, wanting to break through so as to say to you and I, you are God's story, right now. Your life right now is the only bible some people will ever get to read. How scary is that? That is how much confidence God places in each human being. He must know something we have yet to discover. This brings me to the idea behind this blog. (Took a long time to get to the point, you may well point out, and rightly so.)
I was reflecting on this question, "What is the one word that has become a life changing word, over the last 47 years?” That word has to be, COMPASSION. The last 47 years has seen me be ordained at the tail end of one understanding of church, and the appearance, under the guidance of The Holy Spirit, of a new and more challenging reality. I had to live, no, scratch that, I had to survive, through that liminal time, where one reality was replaced with another. It was a time of upheaval. For those who lived through the 60s and 70s, you know what I am speaking about….
You had the Vietnam Nam war, the appearance of the drug culture, everything was being questioned, and to top it off you were not going to live past, 30. That was a blessing, because “there was nobody over 30, that could be trusted”. There was radical change taking place, both inside and outside the church. Was it easy? Of course not!
We went from the objective, to the subjective. The story of each person was the story of God, and so demanded reverence. There were no longer any glib answers from some book. Each person had to be listened to, with compassion.
Where did that compassion come from? I was on the receiving end of the compassion of many individuals, both inside and outside the church community. There were compassionate people who afforded me a place to bring my weary and sometimes broken being, and rest awhile. They were not there to fix me, they were there to listen to me, and where necessary suffer with me, this is the true meaning of compassion. I was then able to move on, and in some cases struggle on, renewed in spirit. Looking back I can tell you from experience, there is no place to compare to that sanctuary where you can freely express your anxiety and fears, reveal who you really are, and not be judged, or condemned. That was the sacred place to bring the harsh judgments, the unrealized, impossible, broken dreams, and be received with tender care, no judgment, and a life giving love. The black and white life took on, many shaded of gray. I now look back and can see the truth in those words, "Life is not a problem to be solved, it is a mystery to be lived'.
I am being led, to believe because of my own life's story, that to live the life our God wants us to live, we must immerse ourselves in the mystery of compassion. My list of compassionate fellow travelers is, a long list, and is being added to all the time. The older you get, the more compassion one needs to receive. The blessing that comes with that, is that now you have more compassion to share. We all need the compassion, to become the person our God intends us to be. In our moments of pain, we do not want glib answers, we want the presence of a real human, being present to us and with us. A person that says to us, "I do not have any answers but I am here for you. Is the okay?”.
That is everything, a human being can ever need. So then to realize our God's dream for us, The Aisling of God, as spiritual beings having a human experience, we need, no, we demand a great deal of compassion.