Welcome to a special edition of my monthly post on compassion for
Merry Christmas or whatever it is you say, each one of you. I am looking for some peace. Do you know where I could find some?
Nothing goes together more suitably than the Christmas season, peace, and compassion, right? So it should be easy to write about compassion at this time of year.
So then why do those stories of last minute shopping woes and packed stores threaten the peace and compassion I try to focus on?
It’s all about perspective. The last time I spent time in a hospital, visiting a loved one, it happened – all the chaos of the world I couldn’t get away from, (with 24/7 news and social media), all that stuff vanished. As soon as I feared for a loved one’s health I left that chaotic world of sensationalism and drama. What is truly important? It was right there in front of me, staring me in the face.
I saw plenty of compassion for our fellow humans, but I also saw plenty of the other side of things. I didn’t choose to be lifted, so suddenly, into an alternate reality, but I was.
Then it happened again, almost one month later exactly. The first episode in the hospital with my brother was a trial run, for a much worse experience. Again, all the politics here in North America, the horrors of ISIS, and the tragedy of refugees in Europe all took a backseat to my family and the compassion we would receive from other sources.
It started with the way my immediate family come together in the hard times. We rally. We close ranks.
We went into a state of adrenaline, as we did not know, minute to minute, what the situation was. That did not matter, though, in the end. We would be able to handle it, whatever “IT” was. That’s just how we roll.
We found compassion from hospital staff, doctors and nurses alike. We did not have a clue what we were doing. We still don’t. I know we got through it and will continue getting through, no matter what.
We sent word to the rest of our family and friends. They jumped to our aid and supported us. I clung to hope and the positive words of those who seemed to be more sure than I could manage to be, sure that my brother was strong and would fight back against whatever might be holding him down. It wouldn’t win, they were sure of that.
Technology and social media went from being sources of continuous and maddening news articles to a place where I could listen to the proclamations of those positive thinkers and friends. I found compassion there for my current situation and I held tight to that life raft in the ocean of uncertainty and fear I felt lost in.
Then I just happen to hear the news on a television, as I sat in a hospital lounge, just down the hall from where my brother was sleeping. All the horrors and the stress out there in the world crept in. I tried to keep it out, but it felt like cold water thrown in my face, waking me back up to a world out from my own private concerns. I couldn’t ignore the fear I now felt, both close to home and in the wider world. I still felt compassion for those refugees, the ones I wanted to write about, who have made it here to Canada and those still fighting for basic human necessities, out there somewhere.
I again wished and searched for some peace, in and amongst the craziness. It’s almost Christmas now and I still would like to know where that elusive thing called peace is hiding out.
I found compassion. It’s out there. People are doing good things. Those like
There are those who explain it all, much better than I can:
Last year I was a wreck. I was feeling blue and Christmas, a time where I’ve always felt cheerful at the mere approaching of December 25th. Something only made me more apathetic deep down, as last year came to a close.
It was my one and only younger brother who came to the rescue then. He lifted my spirits. He showed me an alternative to the Christmas seasons of my past, and I took hold of it gratefully: never-before-seen Christmas movies and music you would never hear on the radio. His compassion for how I was feeling, lost and alone, that brought me through, got me through.
Now here we were and I felt no peace. I felt around, in the darkness and the emptiness and the ever widening hole in my heart, reaching and grasping for anything I could offer my brother when he needed me. I could not help. I felt incapable of giving him anything close to what he’d given me one year ago. I could not fail him now.
Where was the compassion for myself? I knew I was scared and feeling entirely unable to handle much of any great weight. I feared I would never be able to write again, that my words were no solace to me when I needed something, anything. I knew I needed to eat, to rest, to take care of myself, but I couldn’t function. I had no way of knowing how long that might go on.
And then I heard her words. She spoke of her struggle, watching over her husband, hurt in a car crash. She saw him suffer and she stood by him. That’s what love looks like, I thought. My head in my hands, ready to throw them up in the air in frustration, I let her uplifting message of thinking positive and using any and all available energy to think best possible outcome wash over me. I listened to her words, her simple words of encouragement, my hands closing tight over my face, to squeeze all the panic I was feeling away, I raised my head up finally.
With all the rushing around that people do at this time of year I try to think of those who are sitting, still and quiet, with their loneliness at Christmas. This time of year brings up a lot of bad memories, beautiful memories, all things long gone now and I know how that feels. Suffering does not stop, indeed heightens, when the rest of the world is off celebrating somewhere. I like to have an added bit of compassion for what someone else may very well be dealing with. Sharing that isn’t always so easy, as we’re meant to feel like we’re doing it wrong if we can’t seem to find the spirit of the season.
A lot of compassion has been shown lately, by family and friends and near strangers, and that helps make the worst things bearable. Compassion is when a bunch of the people my father works with come together and raise money to give as a gift to my brother, recovering from a recent brain injury.
It’s not hard to find it: compassion, if you’re aware and open to finding it, but you must be willing to give it too. I want more compassion, for us all, as I return to the awareness of a wider world around me, full of suffering and need. I want it for those refugees who need a helping hand. For Muslims who feel like the world is ganging up on them for things beyond their control. I will join in the holiday traditions with my family and I will be grateful for my brother’s recovery and for the fact that we could have spent Christmas in a hospital. Small blessings are big things.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or all the best, for whatever it is you celebrate and believe. Whatever you want to call it, it’s all about compassion, when you boil it down. I will be back, to spread as much compassion as I can, with the help and encouragement of 1000Speak, in the new year.