Compassion is Hard

Compassion is hard.

It’s not always right there on the surface. Often, we have to dig through layers of resentment, anger, indifference, rage, even humor to bring it into view. We have to forage past first instincts and first impressions.

Compassion is not always met with gratitude.

It can shock people. It may make things awkward. And when this happens, we have a tendency to put it back in its safe place, to reserve it for those more “deserving,” in order to get back to our separate lives.

Compassion is reliable.

If left out long enough, it always works. Even with those people.

Compassion is powerful.

It’s always appropriate and, though seemingly benign, it can topple the most sinister of beasts, like the line of rope in a cowboy’s hand that takes down a steer and renders it motionless.

Compassion is patient.

Compassion knows its power and is willing to wait for us to be ready to use it. Compassion is aware that it’s likely not going to be our first choice, and maybe not even our second, so it sits like a lasso, coiled up in our backpack – the only thing capable of reining it all in.

Compassion is always within our reach.

We just have to remember, it’s there. That’s the hard part I was talking about.

As people throw daggers and let their eyes and hearts fall away, we’re quick to reach for sharper weapons that guarantee our escape and add to the casualties. It’s the easy way out.

But when we’re at our best, when we’re feeling connected and graciously alive, we pay little attention to the marksmanship of others, we lay down the jagged things in our own hands, and we reach for something else.