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Monday, November 19, 2007

Come, Clothe Yourself with Compassion

"Compassion is something other than pity. Pity suggests distance, even a certain condesendence. [When] I give some money to a beggar on the streets of Toronto or New York City, but I do not look at him in the eyes, sit down with him or talk with him, I am really too busy to really pay attention to the man who reaches out to me. My money replaces my personal attention.

"Compassion means to become close to the one who suffers. But we can come close to another person only when we are willing to become vulnerable ourselves [and to admit to failures, brokenness and shortcomings]. This is perhaps, the main reason that we sometimes find it easier to show pity than compassion. The suffering person calls us to become aware of our own suffering. How can I respond to someone's loneliness unless I am in touch with my own experience of loneliness? How can I be close to handicapped people when I refuse to acknowledge my own handicaps? How can I be with the poor [and homeless] when I am unwilling to confess my own poverty?" by Henri Nouwen

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