Coming into Christmas, 2008, I find myself having new ideas this year. Partly because of the economic turn-down. Much more so, however, because of the Brene Brown's conference on shame resiliency. (if you are new to this blog, more info can be found at http://brenebrown.squarespace.com/ )
Compassion comes only when we learn to neither shame, nor to blame, another person who is experiencing misfortune.
One can extend a lot of charity without having compassion. Jesus took the higher road. He told the bystanders to quit throwing their stones, to quit blaming. He looked into the eyes of people so that they could see his understanding as he extended his hand. That extension was not one of sympathy, but of the shared humanity that He knew and felt in his heart.
Why? Because his life was filled with a mixture of joy and sorrow, of light and darkness. All because he dared to look at the light and darkness that fills our world.
He looked beyond his own sorrows and needs, but felt them deeply. He knew what it was to live in poverty, and didn't consider that the worst thing in the world. Far worse, He realized and tried to teach us, is living in shame and self-doubt. Or feeling that life isn't worth living if we don't have all that Santa Claus makes us dream of having.
So, somehow in kindness, yet without mincing words or lowering standards, he was saying to us: "Keep growing up and facing reality. In so doing, you will find peace, light, and compassion for people beyond your little world--the little world that stops at the borders or shores that you recognize as important."