Compassion is currently a buzz word, as it should be. Compassion is the opposite of bullying. It looks deeper than the surface of an individual and grants grace as opposed to judgement. Compassion starts with the ability to feel empathy. Compassion is the fruit of empathy. In our highly charged culture of self survival and the Facebook world of instant response, we have somehow lost the art of contemplation. It is the ability to understand someone else’s viewpoint and to care about another person's feelings that will allow you to heal broken relationships. A person must first be able to connect to their own feelings and be able to articulate them before they can recognize someone else’s feelings. It takes time and depth to show compassion. It takes perspective and wholeness to heal. Take, for example, the discord in politics the last 4 years. Friends and family torn through anger and self-righteousness. Why? I, for one, am probably one of the most hot headed liberals you will ever meet. I have made my share of knee-jerk reactions and have had to apologize more times than I want. But when I take the time, sleep on it and consider the underlying message of the victim or the attacker, it usually boils down to fear or misunderstanding. So what is the truth, what matters? Love matters, kindness matters and peace matters. If we open the morning with a commitment to compassion, ignore what doesn’t matter and choose empathy, we will heal 90% of our relationships. Some cannot be healed and that is okay. Develop the wisdom to know the difference. Be compassionate first with yourself. Forgive and nurture the person you are and make sure to laugh at yourself. That is good medicine. Why take yourself so serious? No offense, but each one of us plays a very small part in the overall scheme of things. The irony is that, through love, we play a huge part in the cosmos. Consider how quickly a political or cultural atmosphere changes. Be bold and be kind. Resist and love. These concepts are not mutually exclusive. You can stand up for what you believe without stepping on someone else. We are all learning, we are all growing and we are all heading to the same end. On the journey, acts of compassion will pave the way for a life of beauty and purpose. Be quick to forgive, to understand and to allow for differing opinions. The forest teaches us the beauty of diversity. Human beings are full of the magnificence of individuality. See us as a field of wildflowers. We can coexist and we can love each other not in spite of our differences but because of our differences.
It is the ever-present longing in the heart to give out what truth and goodness lies inside. It is the courage to speak up when fear tries to build a wall. Love is a quiet moment and a raging sea. It exists in every conversation and every silent thought. Love is not minimal but as expansive as the stars in the night sky. It is as plentiful as the grains of sand on the ocean border. Without love there is nothing. In love we are created and we are born. In love we take our last breath and enter into the hands of love. There is no place love does not exist, even in the depths of hell, love is remembered. So worry not will you know love, because love knows you and will not abandon you.
Love is as you are, so be love and let love be love.
Civil rights champion Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent his short life teaching us about how to love. Love is a glorious thing, but without action it is just a thing. Dr. King had a dream, a beautiful dream, where people would be eager to take up for one another, where compassion would reign. We live in a world today, where we really could use a living hero. Simple kindness has been forgotten. Hatred and division has been bought and paid for. We have blatant KKK and Nazi’s boldly walking the streets of our communities. We have bullies striking out at everyone and everything they fear. We have name-calling and lies being hurled from political pulpits. Families divided by ideology. But I’m not in despair. I see truth currently rising like a mighty tide. I see neighbors reaching out with an open hand of generosity. I see a dream waking up through a nightmare where the majority of people will protect the disenfranchised, the poor, the hungry and the abused. I see a silent army of caring, feeling soldiers of good. To say 'I love you' is hollow. To live, to act, to sacrifice I love you can move mountains. Today in memory of Dr. King, do something. Rise up and make a difference in someone’s life. Give what you have to someone who needs it, whether it’s a hug, a cup of coffee, a letter, a phone call or an encouraging word. Do not support bullies and haters. Speak up with kindness and say no, that is not okay. Please do not walk by the needy, do not be silent about racism. Exercise love because dormant love is not love at all.
Thank you Dr. King for the example you have given us!
Love is a Verb!
My memory is not the best. I usually attribute that to trauma; at the age of 12 from my father’s sudden death. Also the 60s drug culture and my tendency to throw caution to the wind. Writing has helped me to open up some of those closed portals to yesterday. My lack of memory has served me well by sheltering me from many painful experiences. But it has also dwarfed me in that I am unable to recollect pleasant memories, including those from my love-filled childhood. I’ve never held on to old pictures or family memorabilia. I have no items from my childhood, no baby books, no precious family photos; nothing to lose, right? Nothing useless to cling to, like a dear memory of a person who will eventually be ripped away from you. These contracts we make in our psyche are strong. They can rule our life and destroy it too.
So I am attempting to pry open locked doors and step into my memory.
I oil the locks with tears and use strong intention to see a face, hear a voice, feel a feeling. It’s not easy. One I have been able to pull out is the memory of my dad reluctantly agreeing to read the morning funnies to me. Since he was a firefighter and only home half the time, every other Sunday was his ‘sleep in until church’ day. The morning paper would arrive early. I was ready. I would tear through the useless news and head straight to the comic section, which I referred to as the ‘funnies’. I would perch myself outside of my parents bedroom while all my brothers and sisters were still fast asleep. The moment I heard movement and saw my mom come out the bedroom door into the kitchen, I made my move. I moved close to the bed rustling the paper loud enough so my dad would certainly wake up. He would lift up, look down, and I suppose make an instant decision, send me away so he could sleep or invite me up so he could daddy. It was always the latter. I would say, “Daddy will you read me the funnies? Please?” He would say, “Get up here, which one do you want first?” And I would point to ‘Little Lulu’. Then, for the next 15 or 20 minutes, I would have what I wanted most in the world, my dad’s total and undivided attention. I would giggle and he would say, “Just one more Peggy” and read ‘Peanuts’ and put down the paper and then I would giggle and say “Just one more daddy”. That is where I learned the art of persuasion and the truth of love.
Oh sweet memories, like dreams, you sometimes hide from us, but when you appear and let us in we find treasures richer than gold.
December 15th, 2019. Only 2weeks left in this decade. Sitting by the fire, drinking coffee this morning in contemplation. Most mornings I contemplate. How is it time goes by so fast? Lately it seems like wake up, go to bed. The hours in between slip through my grasp like sand. I certainly cannot hold on. Even my play moments are haunted by the reality of my life giving way to years. I wonder how many other 65 year olds feel this way? I wonder will I connect again to the life force of youth?
These are serious moments, probably brought on by fatigue and stress. I wish I would have asked my mom about this. I wish I would have asked my mom a lot. She had so much wisdom.
I know I have lived more happy days than sad and I know I have given more than I have taken. Perhaps that is the best we can hope for. I have experienced far more love than hatred and danced far more times than sat out. Tears have come easily as has laughter. My faith has remained, though tried. I’ve learned there is no joy in material gain and fame is fleeting. A grandchild’s hug is more powerful than an ocean sunset and hearing I love you is a greater gift than gold. In the quiet stillness is the voice of God. In the grip of fear are the hands of angels and in the height of despair is the hope of tomorrow. This life, though fleeting and failing is a gift. Amid the morning quiet, the fire sings, the birds dance, the coffee warms my soul and the words I write give meaning to my simple life. I reach for gratitude to gain perspective through my tears and find a hidden treasure among the ruins. A thankful heart will sustain me as morning contemplations release me.
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.