Thomas Merton said “The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.”
We live in a world which seems to be hell-bent on convincing us that the opposite of this true. We seem to be sold constantly the notion that we are not at all interdependent and that we look after our own destiny. The world seems to be obsessed with the thought that “dog-eat-dog” is a good thing. It is all about looking after our own needs in our own time – kronos, or human time. That time seems so valuable to us – we give it away sparingly sometimes and often begrudgingly because we figure we could be using our time better. “I have so many things I could have been doing but I was busy with my friend…. (you can finish the sentence as you best see fit.)
Then along comes a moment in time; in God’s time, kairos, which teaches us that life can indeed be about more than just getting ahead. The question is do we take heed? The follow up question being, what do we do about it? We need to hold on to those moments of compassion and remember what really matters in life. We are indeed interdependent. We are all involved with one another and we must all work to share in each others joys and sorrows. This week was a real vivid reminder for me personally of the important things in life. In the love outpoured by family and friends there was a real acceptance of the stark reality that when we can acknowledge that we are interconnected, we feel each other’s pain and in so feeling we can be a tremendous help and support in shouldering the burdens that life sometimes affords us.
Today’s reading from Isaiah begins with these words, “But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish.” These words mean so much in the context of hat we have been living. The prophet goes on to say, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.” Given the great promise we believe is offered to us as a people of God it is very comforting to think that there is light and hope and healing after darkness, pain and anguish. It is more comforting still to know how that Light which seems to dispel all darkness is so abundantly real in the faces of those who choose to take on Merton’s understanding of the communal nature of our existence.
Tonight I give thanks for the people of this parish who have shouldered some of our grief this week and have given us Light and hope. I am certain that we managed so much better knowing that we are not alone and that we have people in our lives that will walk with us through anything. We sang Andrea’s Anthem this morning and it brought great joy to my heart. Thank God for catharsis and for music and expression. It is in a way, my mode of coping and indeed healing.
Merton also said, “Perhaps I am stronger than I think.” I do feel that sentiment tonight as well, but only because strength has come through faith in a God who loves me and support from a community of the baptised. So we charge on having heard the words of the prophet Isaiah. – “For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian” Praise God from whom all blessings flow!