Posts Tagged ‘choice’

Today is my last day of vacation.  I headed out two weeks ago today to have lunch with my friend B in Woodstock.  We hadn’t seen each other in nearly four years.  We lingered too long in the restaurant, laughed too loudly and generally enjoyed ourselves immensely.  Before we parted, we made a date for our next time together.

From there I journeyed to visit my best friend L in St. George.  From there I went to Dyers Bay to visit S & D, then to Port Elgin to visit J, home for a night and then off by train to visit R in Toronto.  I got home last night and almost immediately unpacked.  I washed my face, looked around my house, greeted the dogs and felt like I was home.

On the train there was a tremendous sense of peace and serenity.  I just finished reading the book “Sabbath” and have begun to follow many of the teachings in the book.  Sabbath is a way of being, it is a state of mind.  And it is something I have been lacking for a long time.  Truth is, I spend too much time in front of a screen.  I need to unplug and get outside.  This morning I decided not to get dressed, but I likely will this afternoon so I can take a Sabbath walk and may decide when I get back to put my pjs on again, I don’t yet know.

Today is not about chores.  It is about meeting my basic needs.  Reconnecting with my family.  Giving thanks for safe travel.  It is about breathing, slowing down.  Meandering, not rushing.  It is about priority.  And today that priority is rest and refresh.

I am glad to be home and to bring what I learned while away back into daily practice.  I didn’t realise just how thirsty I was for living water until I tasted it.  And now I want more.  Not too much.  Just enough.

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Karen Armstrong, a former Roman Catholic nun and well-known theologian has written extensively on the three Abrahamic faiths; Judaism, Christianity and Islam. She feels that what is causing a great deal of strife in the world is a lack of compassion.

As such, in 2006 she expressed a desire for a world-wide Charter of Compassion, whereby individuals, communities and groups could agree to live life with compassion for others. In 2008 the Charter for Compassion became a reality.

It’s mandate is simple: “We believe that a compassionate world is a peaceful world. We believe that a compassionate world is possible when every man, woman and child treats others as they wish to be treated: with dignity, equity and respect. We believe that all human beings are born with a capacity for compassion, and that it must be cultivated for human beings to survive and thrive”.

To read more about the Charter for Compassion, please check out their website, www.charterforcompassion.org.

Jesus talks about compassion in one of the most well-known pieces of scripture. John 3:16 says “for God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that those who believe may have eternal life”. Jesus is continually putting others before himself. His entire ministry is of teaching, preaching, proclaiming and healing.

He welcomes sinners and outcasts. He eats with them and shares stories with them. He treats everyone as equal; something that was unheard of in those days and, at times, still feels as though it is the way of the world.

Imagine if you were Mary. She was told, as a teenager, that she would have a very special child. She agreed to undertake this ministry. Little could she imagine that her child would die before her…a parent’s worst nightmare. Would she have agreed if the angel had told her that her son would die before her? Or the horrific way in which he would die? Would her reaction have been the same?

Imagine if you were Jesus. He is born fully human and fully divine. He was able to experience hunger and thirst as well as pain. He knew that he had an earthly calling but also a heavenly calling. And he was, as we all are, gifted with free will. To say that Jesus had no choice, is to weaken and diminish the gift he lovingly and willingly gave us, the gift of his own life.

Imagine if Jesus had been told the horrific way in which he would die? Imagine if God has responded when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane? Jesus called out, in emotional agony for God to take away this what had been commanded. And God was silent. I have wondered for years why God was silent and I can only deduce that God kept silent because if God had spoken, s/he may have changed her/his mind.

God kept silent because s/he felt there was no other way for Jesus to fulfil his ministry.

Remember the story of Abraham and Isaac. Jesus would have known this story well. Maybe he was hoping that God would tell him that because he was willing to die, he would be spared; as God spared Isaac. That didn’t happen. And Jesus died.

Willingly and lovingly.

And Jesus would do so again.

When we live our lives only for ourselves, we fail to see the gift we’ve been given. When we fail to see the suffering of humanity, we struggle to recognise the inherent human dignity of the stranger; of the other. We fail God. And each other.

As we continue through the 40 days, plus Sundays that comprise Lent, let us take the time to be kind to each other. To treat each other as we wish to be treated. Every religion on the planet has adopted this basic premise as it’s main tenet. In Christianity we say “love your neighbour as yourself”.

Spiritually speaking, it is easy to get wrapped up on our own lives and forget the lives of the less fortunate, of the broken, the hungry and the naked. We are called, as Christians, and as human beings to share in the experience of compassion.

Imagine if we all lives our lives believing we were making a difference? Imagine if we lives our lives putting others before ourselves? Of loving with abandon and of ensuring we recognised the inherit human dignity of every person?

We can do it. Each and every one of us. It starts with me. And with you.

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