Compassion as a spiritual exercise; day 19 of Ramadan

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein

If you didn’t know already, the weather globally has been a bit topsy-turvy this summer. We’re in the midst of a weather event known as El Niño, and depending on where you’re at globally it might be warmer or colder or wetter or drier than usual. With that being said, in my part of the weather it has been a very very wet summer.

Subsequently a good portion of the activities with my students have been onsite. There have been warm summer days, and so I do what I can to play with my students in the park or simply walk around our building for a period of time.

Today didn’t seem like it was going to rain and so I thought I’d have some time to do some outdoor activities with my students…so I thought, but during our time out in the community it started raining, not a lot, but enough to cancel any outdoor activities once we returned. One of my students was alarmed and frightened by the thunder and lightning, and so he vocalized it and a short while later I went back to the unit with him for remainder of the school day.

Compassion by definition is the “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” I believe I have within me a good deal of compassion to put out there to others, I have an intuitive nature and a good sense of communication via body language, and thankfully I have a job where if a student is feeling unsafe I can help get her or him out of the classroom in a pretty timely matter without any fuss from the teacher I work under or our mutual superiors.

I want to live life intentionally and compassionately, to be aware of the needs of others and doing what I can to help them out. I realize that I can’t address everyone’s needs nor can I reach everyone for that matter, but still I want to be able to help out others tangibly in community.
Acting compassionately and meeting the needs of others is one of the central things tied to my belief system as a Red Letter Christ-centric Universalist, because there are a lot of things that point to Jesus doing as well as being during his time spent here on earth.
I used to have the mindset that I would help others out when I was fiscally in the black, that I wouldn’t be hurting when I did give of my resources. Yet, and I do believe it was the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I went against that perspective because I realized that I would never truly be in the black given my field of work and that my resources didn’t only pertain to money but also my gifts and also my time. I resolved then and there to give of what I have to others, to live semi-frugally, and to give what I have to others.
As of late I am doing what I can to live with even less than what I already have. It’s purifying in a way to assess what you have and what you can easily do without and then give it away to those who are in need, this act of compassion certainly is a symbiotic relationship between the giver and the receiver.

So with all that being said, compassion was my keyword on this 19th day of Ramadan. Thanks be to God, The Compassionate One, who extends his compassion upon humanity and helps us extend that compassion to others. May we not be stingy with our resources in this life, may we give unto others who are less fortunate than we are, and may we remember that our lives are not our own.

Salaam alaikum be yours now and always,
Nathanael

Hold on loosely; what water damage has taught me about material possessions

“Hold on loosely” by 38 Special entered my mind when I was informed earlier today that due to the rain from the night before some additional water damage took place in my basement. It caused some water to drench some of my old clothes and a lot of auto-related “earthly treasures” to get ruined.

So I helped with moving out those damaged goods, quite quickly too as today’s garbage day and I certainly didn’t want that sitting around for a week.

There are times where the best response to things is to have that kind of an attitude, recognizing that everything is prone to rust, mold, mildew, breaking, cracking, et al. and if we think we have some control over it we’re only kidding ourselves and so when it comes to material possessions (which I need to practice more in my life) is to recognize that the best things in life aren’t the material possessions I’ve acquired and they aren’t things either, they’re the people I’ve gotten to know and love.

I like how Jesus put it as recorded by Matthew in chapter 6 verses 19 to 21; ““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I too want to store up treasure in heaven, I too want to say unselfishly that the treasure I guard most closely are those I come into contact with, those who I choose to engage over judge and those I love with a heart like God’s and with his eyes seeing the Imago Dei-ness in everyone.

Thanks be to God for water damaged material goods, I’m a little more free as I hold onto my possessions a bit more loosely.

~Nathanael~