Compassion

According to Google, mentions of the word compassion are on the upswing. Not nearly as heavily used as in the early 1800’s but definitely reversing the downward trend of the 20th century. We are mentioning the word compassion with a bit more frequency.

I found this out by researching the word. The Latin root means “to suffer with”, which is a far cry from the modern definition of feeling “sympathetic pity”.

Pity is a rather aloof concept, locked in the chambers of the mind. It implies a distance from the object being pitied. I rather resonate with “to suffer with”. It requires interconnection.

All this contemplation of compassion began as I walked my twelve year-old sheep back to the barn. It is our nightly ritual now.  Our slow methodic steps, listening to the creaking of her arthritic hips; I do not pity her. I am witness to her effort to live, to socialize with the others as best she can, to relish the apples and corn in the morning, to bask in the warmth still afforded on these fall days. And in the evening to join me as we take our leisurely stroll back to the barn.

I do not pity her. We are the same. I enjoy, as she does, the sweetness of life. And I recognize my own aging in hers. I learn from her. My caring for her comes from our mutual kinship, not from some separate ideal of what I should do or how I should be.

Compassion must surely spring from this knowing, this reverence, and this kinship with life. If I must have pity I will hold it for those who have forgotten how to feel. 

Thankfully compassion is palpable and can grow with care and understanding… 

May the awareness of compassion continue to rise.  

This piece is dedicated to my mother, Antoinette (Mignanelli) Eakles who would have celebrated her birthday on October 11. Through hardships and sorrow, through joy and understanding she grew her compassionate heart. I am happy to follow that lead.

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