though night still covers the earth
and darkness the peoples,
on you Yahweh is rising and over you
his glory can be seen.”
Image copyright - Inset artwork Grief by artistaeli, used with permission.
Let me descend into your heart.
Descent from the cross.
Descend into your hearts.
A triduum is a three-day period of prayer, usually in preparation for an important feast or in celebration of that feast. Triduums recall the three days that Christ spent in the tomb, from Good Friday until Easter Sunday.
“Descent from the Cross” ivory 1270 -1280 Muse du Louvre.
“Compassion fatigue” – seems to me to be incomprehensible – even reprehensible. Surely the heart does not stop caring.
How do we come to a place of “compassion fatigue”? What is it that has shifted from caring in a tangible way, to complacency or even seeming powerless?
We become desensitized to that which would make our heart mourn or move us with compassion. As I pondered – I understood from a giant billboard SELF STORAGE.
As as a human rights worker, I was confronted by the term “compassion fatigue” from supporters who no longer wanted to see images of victims of human rights abuse. The rawness of the constant suffering had become too difficult to bear.
I am not talking here of exhaustion. I understand we cannot stay in the front line of caring without support, care and respite. There is a time and a season for us.
I am talking of a turning point – a time at which we harden our hearts and deny our suffering world. We deny our own capacity to suffer with our selves and others. We deny extending ourselves to be compassionate to one another.
When people talk of agencies “they no longer trust” or when working with youth in desperate life situations – I am “warned” not to give too much. Yesterday I heard people decrying those who were speaking compassionately on behalf of the refugees.
Do we decry the voice of the poor?
Can we have ever had enough compassion? How do we grow in mercy and compassion?
As Isaiah says let our hearts be broken…
that we may weep with those who are weeping.
Rilke’s words talk of our God – a God of mercy and compassion -suffering with us today.
You are the poor one, you the destitute.You are the stone that has no resting place.You are the diseased onewhom we fear to touch.Only the wind is yours.You are poor like the spring rainthat gently caresses the city;like wishes muttered in a prison cell, without a world to hold them;and like the invalid, turning in his bed to ease the pain.Like flowers along the track, shudderingas the train roars by, and like the handthat covers our face when we cry – that poor.Yours is the suffering of birds on freezing nights,of dogs who go hungry for days.Yours the long sad waiting of animalswho are locked up and forgotten.You are the beggar who averts his face,the homeless person who has given up asking;you howl in the storm.
Knowingly or unknowingly, we live a faith filled life.
The plumb line cannot measure the depths of mystery in which we exist.
As children and in some cultures – mystery, the unseen and the life of spirit are the context of our experience. Reality is, we are each part of something beyond ourselves and our comprehension. We swim in the unknown.
“The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore, but to be in the lake. To luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out; it is an experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept mystery. “Quote from the character John Keats in the movie "Bright Star".
This quote speaks to me of our choices in our attitudes particularly to our spiritual life. Do we want to grab and capture everything, name it, define it and somehow be in control of it? Is our approach to mystery one of conquest as we seek to taste the mystery ?
There is a wry paradox in trying to explain or detail the eternal ever present mystery. It seems so deficient that we should trade the magnitude of the wonder of the unknowable for a set answers of history, science or doctrine.
Rarefied are the species who wait expectantly on faith and providence – or enter the realms of the intangible. Yet countless scientiests, spiritual wayfarers, contemplatitives and creatives attest to the reality and fullness of a spirit led life.
The mind is but a visitor;
it thinks us out of our world.
Each mind fabricates itself.
We sense it limits, for we have made them.
And just when we would flee them, you come
and make of yourself an offering.
I don’t want to think a place for you.
Speak to me from everywhere.
Your Gospel can be comprehended
without looking for its source.
When I go toward you
it is with my whole life.
Extract from Rainer Maria Rilke – “Love poems to God”
Be still and know that I am God.
Gradually we become more present and receptive to our God -the One who cannot be named or contained.
To be open to God is to be open to the Mystery of our being, beyond limits.
FURTHER READING: I recommend to you today Dylan Raines who is about to commence a walk for water in 3 days. … He has a most interesting blog on using meditation to make yourself happy.
Extract from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Book of Hours:Love Poems to God Translated by Anita Barrows & Joanna Macy.
40 DAYS OF BLOGS I have laid the foundation for personal reflection and direction.
I will continue to post regularly, but not daily. I allow a new spaciousness to enter as I become attentive and watchful.
Blessing you in this time as we watch and pray.
In the philosophy of the poet – love ushers forth from a well of wisdom. From the contemplative heart we receive lived wisdom as from the sage.
We listen to our journey as it has been lived through their lives. Their truths are our truths – in shadows and in light. They speak of what might have been; the seen and the unseen. They birth in us new ways of saying, of being, of naming and of seeing.
David Whyte explores the Poetry of Compassion in the recording below. In it he talks of the inner journey, and the search to find your own way. He explores our capacity to embrace all of self, including our darker side and grief. He brings gentle connections to, as he says, “restore our personal innocence” and be compassionate with ourselves.
By recitation of poetic works from Mary Oliver and Pablo Neruda, and his own poem – “The Well of Grief” – he evokes and opens for us a deep relationship to the words and imagery of the inner journey.
This recording is 37 min.duration, but may be stopped at short intervals between various poems. I highly recommend the full recording on the site below.
However, you may choose to listen in intervals of five minutes or so.
David Whyte visiting Australia April 24 – May 3 http://www.davidwhyte.com/
I am noticing how I have moved the page axis towards creation a little more lately -thanks to a blog by Dylan Raines – campaigning for people in desperate need of water. (I like the pun in his name and life call! 🙂 God has a sense of humour! too ).
Picking up on his blog stimulated my focus over the last few days in prayers for water and Si Laudate.
‘Inspiring’ is not too big a word. But is a “handsome” word.
I like it because it is the infilling of the Spirit moving in us as we listen. Consequently, our actions are in response to the promptings which we do not let fall into fallow ground.
What is spiritual direction if it is not listening in our daily life to what the Spirit is saying and responding. “If today you hear his voice harden not your heart” constantly reverberates in me.
and Ephphata…. the Aramaic word – be open.
What strikes me about Dylan’s “campaigning” is the vigour and conviction which he brings to it.
Each of us is called: to love God and our neighbour – with all our heart, with all our mind and all our being/soul. (Matt 22.35)
There is no confusion in this. To live in the way of passion is to live a life of compassion. With passion, we live with suffering; we live in the embrace of self and others in the true fullness of life. Passion literally means suffering. The fire of passion is fuelled by love of God and others. Love suffers in compassion for the other. May it be manifest in our lives.
A reflection may be – “By their fruits you shall know them” (Matt 7:16).
Which spirit are we listening to and what fruit is it bearing right now?
Are we bearing good fruit in all seasons?
Photo image used with permission from Quaddie: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Icing-on-the-Top-147289142