Two small boys are part of our community through both the church and HomePlate. “Little Red” is four and a half, very active; a handsome boy with dark red curls who is athletic and an amazing dancer. “Little Racer” is three. He has blond hair and an angelic face. He is addicted to running—all the time, in any place where he finds himself unconfined.
The sanctuary was empty except for me and Little Racer. Wildly running around pews and chairs he bonked his head on something. He stood in the middle of the room, rubbing his head, uncertain whether crying might be indicated. I looked up as Little Red entered, watched him walk up to the younger one. I could see him say, “You OK?”
Little Racer shook his head no. Little Red reached out and gathered Little Racer to him in a gentle, two-armed embrace. They stood there for almost a minute. Little Racer was first to move. Then they both took off running in a new game of chase. Little Red learns his compassion from his mother who is a gifted nurturer, and from his hero, 6’4″ Sean, HomePlate’s Outreach Coordinator and ex-Jesuit Volunteer Core member.
Earlier this year I arrived for Sunday service directly from a long-awaited family gathering. I had anticipated joy and closeness; the reality was sadly disappointing. I shared with our small worship community that I felt drowned in negativity and discouragement. Seemingly as one, they opened our Gaither hymnals and began to choose songs of hope and comfort. After singing for 15 minutes I said, “That was lovely. I’m not filled up yet. May we have more?” We sang together for another half hour. Few words were offered, no verbal message was brought. I rested peacefully in the compassionate ministry of my F/friends. Finally one of them thanked me (me!!!) for sharing my pain so they could help.
Compassion can be easy and natural as it flows from the spark of love inside us. It’s an incredible gift to give and to receive. But sometimes…sometimes our hearts are broken open by the plight of a fellow creature. Compassion arises in conflict with our deeply held convictions of right and wrong. Then it can be shattering to live out the admonition, “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13, NIV).
Contributed by Bernie Bosnjak, pastor, Hillsboro Friends