Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Compassion

If my week had a theme this would have been “Compassion.” First I finished reading “Same Kind of Different As Me.” It’s by Denver Moore and Ron Hall. I won’t tell you about it, that’s what Amazon.com is for, isn’t it? Just buy the book and read it.

One thing I can tell you about the book is that it’s about compassion.

Then Nancy, who writes her own blog— Introduced me to a new love: TED. That stands for Technology Entertainment and Design. This is an annual assemblage of people that started around 1984 to explore those three fields but now grown to many more people interested in not just those three fields but now including innovation and creative thoughts of the world. My kind of folks.

And the person who was highlighted in a speech you can view on-line was Karen Armstrong. She is quite popular nowadays because she’s an expert on the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. She has been interviewed a lot since 9/11 because she understands that we all have more in common than we have differences. TED gave her an award in March this year and her acceptance speech is featured on their website. She wanted to talk about Compassion. She manages to distill all three religions down to one common theme, compassion. She says that the Golden Rule is found in each of these religions and, in fact, it pre-dates them all. The Golden Rule goes as far back as Confucius, five centuries before Christ.

Here’s the quote I found from her speech: “In compassion, when we feel with the other we dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and we put another person there.”

All of this is to lead you to what I want you to do this week: Pray for the people in Iowa. The TV is saying that the flooding there this week is the worst natural disaster since Katrina.

When I was in Mississippi helping with the Katrina recovery we had a lot of folks spending time with us while they helped rebuild. And just about the largest group of volunteers came from Iowa. I never could figure it out. Was it that boring to live there that they came to volunteer more than any other state? One week there were so many Iowans that they filled our camp and the rest of their group had to stay at another PDA camp. It was an entire Presbytery sponsored trip from North Central Iowa Presbytery. And they worked their hearts out. This was their 4th or fifth visit to help and when they left they said they’d see us again in six months. Maybe it wasn’t boredom. Maybe it was compassion.

They were a quiet bunch, unlike most Texans. If a Texan is anywhere nearby you usually know it. Maybe it just seems that way because I’m from Texas. But these folks from Iowa were such a low-key bunch of folks I kept thinking they were bland and unremarkable. Now I realize what I perceived as bland was only their compassion. They had dethroned themselves from the center of the world and put their friends in Mississippi in that place.

Please remember them in your prayers this week. I anticipate PDA will offer other ways you can help. If you can, make a financial donation to their recovery. Maybe we will be able to take a bunch of folks from Mississippi to go to Iowa to show compassion.

1 comment:

Sharla Fowler said...

Jane - I have also ready the Same Kind of Different as Me. I read it in one night! I loved the book. I can't wait to see you at Synod Youth Workshop. I am printing my SGL Manual as I sit here and read your blog.

What fun!!! Can't wait to see you again. Sharla