The Price of Compassion
by Sydney Avey

In Canada, a cop
Got caught in the crosshair
of a madman.
Hazardous duty.
On the road, a squirrel
got his tail crunched
by a tire.
Hapless squirrel.

In the street lies a man,
the life smacked out of him
by a spray of bullets
his price for the pain of a stranger's grievance.

In the street a squirrel drags behind him
lifeless hind quarters
crushed by traffic
his price for our home in his forest.

I arrive at choir practice.
Dark sightless eyes
stop my breath.
Little feet whose romp is done
beat fast in my chest.
I pray the policeman
opens his eyes and sees the face of God.
I pray the squirrel crosses
into some heavenly stand of trees.

My heart hurts.

Thought: Compassion requires us to feel pain ourselves before we are able to comfort others. We build up our defenses against feeling the injury of suffering and injustice because the opportunities are so numerous. According to Paul in Romans 12:15 true Christian behavior calls us to weep those who weep, but tears won't come if we don't allow ourselves to look death in the face and feel its sting. And healing doesn't happen without tears.

Verse: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV)

Prompt: The next time you witness one of God's creations in pain be it man or animal do not look away. Leave the channel tuned. Slow down the car. Press into the place in your soul that throbs with anguish. Pour out your feelings in prayer. Compassion will grow in your heart and release its healing power.

Sydney Avey writes and blogs in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. She is the author of The Sheep Walker's Daughter.

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