Tuesday, June 09, 2009


I have a brother who is seriously ill with some mental health issues. He has been hospitalized for a while and his care may be very long term if not permanent. Tonight I visited him. I'll be honest. I was tired after a day of work and I really didn't want to go. Much of my life is spent doing things I don't want to do. In spite of my personal weaknesses as a person, I desire to live my life in kindness and with compassion. Admittedly I sometimes suffer from compassion fatigue. There are so many things to care about as well as never ending opportunities and demands to be compassionate. Compassion is not always physically demanding but it can be emotionally exhausting. Visits with my Dad before he died used to just wear me out. Having said all of this, while I was sitting in the hospital tonight trying to carry on a conversation with my brother, a brother who is very fragile and barely responsive, I knew in that moment that my compassion was needed and being compassionate was the right thing to do. It is always spiritually renewing to get over myself and to reach out to another in need. It breaks my heart to see any living thing, whether it is a person or an animal, suffering. I hate to see others in fear or pain. I especially hate it when there is little or nothing I can do to alleviate it. I am not a person who likes to feel helpless. The reality is that sometimes we are helpless and often we can do nothing about a situation that faces us. In those moments of poverty, when we feel we have nothing to give, all we have is the love and kindness and desire to be compassionate. In our helplessness we must trust that our desire to be kind, our desire to be compassionate, our desire to be loving, has some value and is a gift to the other in healing ways we may never understand. I will continue to visit my brother, no matter how tired or lazy or troubled I may feel, for as long as he needs me.

1 comment:

gwenbk said...

Beautiful expressed. A soft heart of kindness and compassion lived out in spite of our very human wish to be/do elsewhere may be the most important thing we do on our spiritual journey! Your honesty is refreshing. When I visit my elderly Dad, I think I am not going to stay long. But when I am actually with him now, I slow down and enjoy the moment. It has been a healing time for both of us that my mother would have loved. When she was very ill in 2006 I wondered what I should do for her. In a used book store, I happened upon a tape called "Stillness Speaks" by Eckhart Tolle. As I drove the 700 miles home to North Idaho, he spoke of just being there in silence for someone who is dying. An enlightening moment that helps me today. Thank you for sharing your journey.