“I know just how you feel.”
I’ve often heard that and far too often from people who haven’t stopped to find out just how I did feel and who have gone on to tell me what I should be doing with my life. Yes, I have felt angry and hurt about their so-called ‘care’. And I’m sure many reading this can recall similar experiences. The ‘care’ we have been offered either doesn’t suit our need or is given insensitively. But then maybe I haven’t expressed my need properly. It seems we all have a lot to learn about caring – both in expressing our needs and in giving and receiving care.
In Lent one of the traditional practices is ‘almsgiving’, that is the showing of practical compassion to those in need. The word ‘compassion’ comes from the Latin meaning ‘feeling with’. With this practice we try to feel with people and offer a care that is appropriate to them – not to how we feel about their situation. It is good to send money to help those in need who are remote from us but the challenge of ‘almsgiving’ in Lent is primarily directed at us learning better ways of being compassionate to those around us who are in need….and that is pretty well everyone. We are challenged to love like God. Over these weeks, take time to really listen to those around you, and even ask questions about how they really feel, what their deepest desires are, how they feel needy. Ask yourself these questions, and if needs be, ask for care for yourself.
Loving God, you know all our needs. Send us your Spirit of compassion to care for each other with the tenderness and wisdom that Jesus shows in his care. We ask this in his name confident that you will hear us.
Sr Kym Harris osb