This is the season when most of us think about joy. It is the season for compassion. If that’s true then why are counselors seeing more clients this month? Because lack of joy is even more disheartening when it is expected; when we see the bright lights, the parties, the hustle and bustle and we are totally disconnected from it. Good News! It is okay to be disconnected from that ‘joy’ because that is not real joy.
Real joy is a deep sigh, it is a touch of blue coming through the dark clouds, it is finding a bit of butter for your toast when you thought you were out. Real joy is simple and it is quiet. It is gratitude wrapped up in a soft blanket. It is the hug you really needed, maybe just a smile, or someone remembering your name. You feel joy in your 7th direction, in your gut, that place in you that is you.
So let go of that horrible to-do list, and turn down that party you don’t want to go to. Connect to the real joy, that inner satisfaction that you are connected to you and that is enough. Be compassionate to that person inside of you first, then compassion will naturally flow out from you.
Joy to your world!
After 18 days on the road with 12 more to go, I wake up in Onset Massachusetts in a sweet little parish house. With 6 events coming up in the next three days, three towns, three different beds and lots of new friends to meet, I attempt to quiet my mind. I am almost finished with a cup of coffee, loaded with cream for comfort and longing for my bed back home. Last night saw my 6th different bed with 5 more to go before my own bed wraps itself around my familiar dreams.
As I retire, semi retire, this tour, Lord willing, will be the last major one. Along the way, I have accumulated little treasures as well as lasting friendships. My home is full of over 20 years of sparkling items that grabbed my attention and my pocket book. My heart is full of over 20 years of special loving friends that caught my heart and soul. This morning as I long for home, I have a melancholy feeling. I also have a feeling of gratefulness and awe at the many places and people John and I have touched along the way. An ending is always a new beginning, for life is a circle, not a straight line. My two new birdies are wearing glasses, I suppose a sign of my fun filled aging. I think when I place them on my mantle above the fireplace back home in my Ozark Nest with many other bird friends, I will call them 'John and Peggy' and tell them, "You are home now, enjoy the stay."
Today I woke to the news that one of my heroes has died. Elijah Cummings, a courageous man of conviction and courage has now left his body. I am sad that I will no longer hear new words of inspiration from him. He left a legacy of volumes of service and sentiments of equality. It is because of him and others like him; John Lewis, Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelo and so many others that I am the person I am today. Because of them, I strive to add justice and compassion to the world. Because of them, I know what sacred sacrifice can bring. I want to honor women and men of fiery conviction because without them we become a lukewarm world with people of cold hearts and empty visions.
I know that Elijah would never want accolades but I know he would forgive me for bestowing them. Kindness and courage are what make people of compassion. I am sad this morning to lose a voice of truth when there are so few in our world today. Dear God, thank you for Elijah, now may he rest in the arms of his Savior. Please send us more selfless voices who teach us that love is a verb!
When you fall in love in your 20s or 30s, you don’t really think about love in your 60s or 70s. How it changes and how it evolves. You don’t know the richness or depth that can exist between two people. How a simple glance at a party can say 'I’m ready to go home'. How a constant routine can comfort the same as an 'I love you'. How a slow kiss can awaken a sleeping memory. As I turn 65 today and think of all the moments, the memories my life has accumulated, I can barely picture them all. I didn’t know how much you could love a 7 year old boy who lives a thousand miles away from you. Or how you can ache for your departed mom. So much I didn’t know and so much I don’t know now. I certainly didn’t know the pleasure of a quiet morning slowly sipping coffee while watching the birds out my back window. I didn’t know how your sweet magenta birthday card, placed right in my morning comfort spot could bring me to tears. My life, it don’t count for nothing, but the moments of love are a full treasure chest of riches. I’ve been a little intimidated by growing old, and 65 seemed like quite a scary number, but it appears to be just another day. An opportunity to be loved and to love.
When I was a little girl I would cross the street from my house, sit on the tall parking lot curb, lay back and look up at the clouds. Up in the distant sky I would see moms and dads kissing, puppy dogs turn into dragons, and elephants on skateboards appear! That parking lot was my domain. Outside was where I wanted to be. I could throw a ball for hours against the side of St. Matthews school or sit and watch as the boys played wiffle ball. I practiced cheer-leading there and the safety of my house was one short run across the empty street. I could hear my mom call me for lunch, or not hear her call me to remind me of my chores. I didn’t need to be taught compassion then, it was merely a way of life. If a neighbor needed anything and we had the means to give it we did. We constantly asked the nuns and priest if they needed anything; gave people rides to the store, helped shovel a driveway or mow a shut-in's yard. Sometimes we would be rewarded with a quarter and would make haste to the candy store. Kindness was just part of the landscape, something you didn’t have to think about. I believe that kind of goodness still lives deep in the soul of our country. Throw out Facebook and cable media and useless hours of video games. Throw out labels and the me me me conversation we hear today. Throw out selfies and selfishness. Under all that veneer is a desire to care about others; a true empathy for those less fortunate and a want of pure simplicity and love. As a country, we are always first to come to the aid of those who face some kind of disaster. We desperately want to solve the problems hate causes. We don’t want to see people hurt. It is true, people are turned off by the egotistical folks and attracted to the humble.
Compassion, like clouds, is always out there. We just need the vision and the space to see it. Let’s all be a part of the beauty. It surrounds us. Just believe!
Our society is becoming more and more isolationist. We have moved from being community-based to the nuclear family way of life; closed off from our community. When was the last time you borrowed a cup of sugar from your neighbor? Do you know your neighbors’ names? I don’t. As I reach out beyond my comfort zone and give away a Compassion Coin, I see delighted recipients. But what I have heard from others is that it is difficult for them to reach out. It is unfamiliar and a bit intimidating. I pondered this response and I have some ideas about the resistance. Because we have become so isolated, taking more than a moment with a stranger feels threatening. Luckily, once we reach out we find the response of the person is delightful. The benefit of giving the Compassion Coin is not only for the receiver; actually the most benefit is to the giver. It activates our empathy space and calls us out of our isolation. Remember the old adage, “It is better to give than to receive"? If we are going to survive as a society we are going to have to get past FaceTime and into real time relationships. We are going to have to feel connected to a community. It is not enough to hold a Compassion Coin. Like compassion itself, its value is experienced in action, by giving it away. I have found so many ways to use my coins. On the days I am out and about I am looking for ways to lift someone up. I don’t always find someone but I usually do. Trust me, in the crazy world we live in I could stay safe within the walls of my made up homogenized world. But I realize we gotta reach out, we gotta love and we most definitely need to heal. My surrogate dad, Fr. Bob, told me in no uncertain terms to get out of my comfort zone, and I still heed those words today. No, it’s not comfortable to do an act of kindness to a stranger or a friend, it feels unfamiliar and that is why we need to do it! Tell fear, “You are not driving this car today, as a matter of fact, get in the back seat and be quiet.” Drive your life with confidence, paying the toll by paying it forward. Thanks my friends for letting me share. Love to you all.
When I saw this picture come across my Facebook feed late last night, I saw a story, a compassion story, and felt compelled to write about it. I awoke with it still on my mind. So, snuggled up in my oversized worn-out reflective chair, with warm cup of coffee in hand I await the flow. When I first looked at this picture I only saw children and a puppet show. I saw the brilliance of art. Art, poetry, music, theater, painting, the place where spirit meets flesh and gives creative fists to compassion. Art, where our senses are awakened and our emotions take over. It is with art that our defenses make way and the door is opened to our authenticity. In this real moment love flows. When I showed this picture to my husband, I said "Isn’t this beautiful?", and he replied, "Yes, and sad." I immediately realized, that is the connection of compassion; beauty and sorrow. A kind hand reaching out to the hurting. A puppet show for war torn children. A moment of laughter in days of fears and tears. We, as compassionate souls, offer those moments which, though fleeting, are life saving. We may not be able to hold a puppet show in the desert but we can sure be the hands that lift our neighbor out of their dry and battled places. I’ve seen dozens of these pictures of Syria destroyed and hopeless, but only this one of children and a simple puppet show has given wings to my hope. We live in a time where every day may seem like a battlefield. We live in a time when certain evil wants to uproot children from hospital beds and send them off to certain death. These times may seem unbearable. The only saving grace is to find your own way to put on a puppet show in the most unlikely place, to reach out with a hug, with a call, with a heart of love. To look at the light and call out the darkness. Call me Pollyanna if you must, but I am totally believing love will conquer hate and as a unified compassion army we will do it one small act at a time.....believe!
When you are discussing compassion you need to understand it’s opposite. I have come to believe that the opposite of compassion is fundamentalism.
Today the battle lines are drawn between those who would adhere to a strict line of rules or laws and those who adhere to love. Love covers a multitude of sin, fundamentalism condemns. Love accepts, fundamentalism rejects. Compassion sees the broken down and reaches out to help, where fundamentalism says ‘if you are broken down, you probably got what you deserve.’ There is no mercy, no grace, no grey area and the driving force in fundamentalism is fear. You see the results of this belief in most mass shootings, in 9/11, in ethnic superiority and in male dominated societies.
There are both religious and cultural fundamentalists. Anyone who believes they are essentially right and shows no sign of budging is a fundamentalist. They claim right to country, to God, to cultural mores, and cannot experience empathy. They cause great harm in our world. And yet the truth is these people need compassion the most. They cling to fundamentalism out of hurt and fear and loneliness. By choosing us over them we are exacerbating the problem. I’ve been trying lately to just ignore the top layer of their rhetoric and picture the hurting child who wants love and can’t seem to get or accept it. I see their actions, though sometimes horrible, as a symptom of a disease and compassion as the saving balm. It’s tough because I despise the racism, Nazism, ethnocentrism, but my negative reaction only accelerates the fire. Only love cools the flames. I’ve been an activist and a hothead my whole life. But at this phase of my life I choose to be a ‘Radical Compassionate’. Which means I am gonna have to love my fundamentalist neighbor. It’s tough but not impossible. Imagine love so abundant it lights the way for those who hate!
My favorite part of the CBS Evening News is the final segment ‘Eye on America’. It features beautiful stories of people helping one another. Inspirational stories that always make me smile. I do, however, have to sit thru 50 minutes of dark and depressing stories first. Maybe that is what makes the last ten minutes so glorious. Ten minutes of light will outshine 50 minutes of darkness every time. Here is the good news, no matter how deep the hatred; a slight bit of love will outweigh all the hate.
Imagine the world if the news was fifty minutes light and ten minutes dark. That is the goal of bcompassionate.com. And it is doable. One small act multiplied by immeasurable light. Like the story of the young girl in Arkansas who spent her time delivering love and goodies to residents in a nursing home. There is so much goodness going on all around us, most we don’t see, but it is there. People are basically good and that needs to be celebrated!
It is empathy with legs and justice in your extended hands. Compassion is love in action. When you get out of 'you' and flow with the energy of love which makes up the mind of altruism. I’ve thought long and hard about this and I’ve come to realize the only thing that matters in this life is to be a friend to my neighbors. The goal of this new blog and website is to inspire readers to reach out to touch a hurting world and place a little balm in the dry places and a listening ear in the lonely faces. Also to find the hidden treasure you carry within, to give and to create a whole world of healing. It won’t take much, maybe a phone call, a smile, a meaningful gift, a couple of dollars, a dozen cookies, and a kind word. Profound simplicity turns darkness to light. So it is with gratitude that I take this journey with you. Please be compassionate to me and share your stories with me. What compassionate acts did you witness today? In what way were you able to be used as a compassionate ambassador? Your ideas help us all, so take 5 minutes and share. Blessings.
Margaret (Peggy) Hill is a wife, mom, grandma, friend, sister, bird watcher, food lover, ocean soul, music producer, writer, comedian, activist, football enthusiast and is up for just about anything!
Her passion is compassion and she has stood for decades by the mantra Love is a Verb, so her main goal in writing is to inspire her readers into action. Peggy is a freelance writer and author of The Wind of My Soul, a book of poetry, art and journaling.
She is a motivational speaker and the creator of the Women of Wisdom (W.O.W.) retreats. Peggy is currently working on her personal story Solely Mine, which will be available in 2020.