Minute Meditations

Nothing Small about Compassion

There is nothing small about compassion. There is nothing small about making a difference in the life of one human being. But sometimes, we need an experience that rocks our world. Or, to invite us to hit the reset button. You know, back to what makes us human. To say yes to whatever connects us, as humans, as children of God, as people who need compassion and mercy for sustenance, as people who cannot walk this journey alone. And to say no to whatever divides or demeans or belittles or degrades or incites hate and exclusion. And I must speak that yes, and speak that no, not only with my voice, but with my hands and my feet. Lord hear my prayer. When the world feels small and dark and frightful, it is not surprising we choose to protect our hearts. We do not easily give them away.

This happens when we live from the notion that we carry only so much emotional capital—you know, that precious commodity which allows us to pay attention, to focus, to contribute, to care, to forgive, to set free. So, it goes without saying that conservation is called for. And it becomes our default. “There is no need to spend empathy on just anybody,” we think. “We need to pick and choose.” Or more bluntly, “There are those who deserve care, and those who don’t.” Lord, help us. We lose track of the values that sustain us. There is nothing small about compassion. It is the thread of life woven through each day. As humans—in the image of God—we touch, love, give, receive, and redeem. It’s time to rethink our notion about the scarcity of compassion. This is an affirmation of what is already alive and well within each of us. We have the capacity to be places of shelter and hope and inclusion and healing.

—from the book Stand Still: Finding Balance When the World Turns Upside Down,
by Terry Hershey, page 53

Stand Still by Terry Hershey


8 thoughts on “Nothing Small about Compassion”

  1. Arlene B. Muller

    In recent years we have been taught the importance of having healthy boundaries:
    1. To ensure that we are being people who are helping & supporting but not becoming ENABLERS of addictions and/or bad behavior. Being an ENABLER feeds addiction & does not help the person, despite good intentions, & harms both the person trying to help & the person he/she is trying to help. When we help others we should be able to get them to the point of being able to help themselves.
    2. To ensure that we don’t give up all our time, all our resources, all our energy, etc. so that we do not neglect to take proper care of ourselves so that we can remain healthy & so that once we have recouped our energy, etc., we can once again give to others.

    How does the notion of having healthy boundaries & “knowing when & where to draw the line” fit in with this post, which seems to contradict this notion? Is there a “happy medium” between what was written in this post & the notion of having healthy boundaries? Is the problem not that we set boundaries but that we have taken the concept of having boundaries too far??

  2. I like your notion of setting boundaries because, it is hard especially when it’s family, love ones, or best friends. It is hard not to care so much when care is already in you. It is especially hard when you have faced so many hardships yourself and trying to focus not on your on experience. I am struggling with that because my love, care, peace, and happiness is so strong of a gift. How do you balance?

  3. Arlene B. Muller

    I wonder if it would be possible to get a response from the author or the moderator regarding our question about how to balance what he has written, which is very beautiful, compassionate & valuable, with the concept of setting healthy boundaries, which is often necessary.
    How can we ensure that we are being genuine, compassionate & generous helpers without becoming ENABLERS & without subjecting ourselves to burnout that harms ourselves & renders us less able to help & give to others!

  4. May I be no man’s enemy, and may I be the friend of that which is eternal and abides. May I never quarrel with those nearest me: and if I do, may I be reconciled quickly. May I love, seek, and attain only that which is good. May I wish for all men’s happiness and envy none. May I never rejoice in the ill-fortune of one who has wronged me. When I have done or said what is wrong, may I never wait for the rebuke of others, but always rebuke myself until I make amends. May I win no victory that harms either me or my opponent. May I reconcile friends who are angry with one another. May I never fail a friend who is in danger. When visiting those in grief may I be able by gentle and healing words to soften their pain. May I respect myself. May I always keep tame that which rages within me. May I accustom myself to be gentle, and never be angry with people because of circumstances. May I never discuss who is wicked and what wicked things he has done, but know good men and follow in their footsteps. (Prayer of Eusebius, 3rd century)

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