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compassion :: downward mobility

here some stuff from henri j.m. nouwen’s here and now: living in the spirit

“compassion, to be with others when and where they suffer and to willingly enter into fellowship of the weak, is god’s way to justice and peace among people.” [p. 135]

“the compassionate life is the life of downward mobility.” [p. 138]

“this is the way of downward mobility, the descending way of jesus. it is the way toward the poor, the suffering, the marginal, the prisoners, the refugees, the lonely, the hungry, the dying, the tortured, the homeless—toward all who ask for compassion. what do they have to offer? not success, popularity, or power, but the joy and peace of the children of god.” [p. 139]

“it would be sad if we were to think about the compassionate life as a life of heroic self-denial. compassion, as a downward movement toward solidarity instead of an upward movement toward popularity, does not require heroic gestures or a sensational turnaround. in fact, the compassionate life is mostly hidden in the ordinariness of everyday living. even the lives of those whom we look up to for their examples of compassion show that the descending way toward the poor was, first of all, practiced through small gestures in everyday life.” [p. 142-3]

“once we look downward instead of upward on the ladder of life, we see the pain of people wherever we go, and we hear the call of compassion wherever we are. true compassion always begins right where we are.” [p. 144]

“compassion means to become close to the one who suffers. but we can come close to another person only when we are willing to become vulnerable ourselves.” [p. 144-5]

“we can be with the other only when the other ceases to be ‘other’ and becomes like us.” [p. 145]

“moments of true compassion will remain engraved on our hearts as long as we live. often these are moments without words: moments of deep silence.” [p. 146]

“in our society we are bombarded with so much ‘news’ about human misery that our hearts easily get numbed simply because of overload. but god’s compassionate heart does not have limits. god’s heart is greater, infinitely greater, than the human heart. it is the divine heart that god wants to give to us so that we can love all people without burning out or becoming numb.” [p. 152]


About david b. clark

a husband and father || a student of philosophy, theology, history, literature, music, art, computer science


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