Monday Love, Compassion, and the Sweet Taste of Humor

Love and Compassion are good Qualities for Mondays at work, at school, just walking around on the planet. We all need love and compassion, the creatures of the earth and the earth itself need our compassion and care. Sometimes we forget to be compassionate towards others. Sometimes we even forget to do the compassionate thing for ourselves. The Beatitudes or “Sermon on the Mount” have always spoken to me as a road map for love and compassion in modern times.

Blessed are the poor in spirit…
Blessed are those who mourn...
Blessed are the gentle…
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…
Blessed are the merciful…
Blessed are the pure of heart...
Blessed are the peacemakers...
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness…
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you….

Setting Monday aside, there must be something in the air, or maybe it’s the changing seasons, but this past week five of the people we love and care about reached out to us in their grief.

In honor of all they’re going through, I thought to post a poem originally published in 2005, just after my dear Pat passed away. Yet, it's still evolving. The Beatitudes were a touchstone for us as we both built lessons for our Social Justice students around them. Pat was especially fond of “Blessed are the pure of heart…” It was her mantra for the days when she was ill, and never fails to remind me of her unselfish love and compassion for others.



D.M. Solis

She’d swallowed a lot of brine in her lifetime
and was at last coughed up
entangled in the churnings of kelp, frayed ropes
and torn sails on the shore at my feet.
I believed the sea had delivered her to me
in all her flawlessness and sorrow
right there as she was on that spot
surrounded by her fragments--
shattered pieces mother-of-pearl
and exploded sea glass glinting up at me
like incandescent stars she rescued
from the ocean floor
with broken seashells from her travels,
relics from the cruelest storms.

I took her home, tried to nurse her wounds
and make her strong again
as if that strength could come from me.

As much as I could
I loved her, and to my surprise
as much as she was able, she loved me back.
But before long she needed to return
to the ocean, setting her own course alone.
And the love itself? I asked.
If this was the Love
we longed for, she replied,
wouldn’t it be a better union
if she returned
when she was better for it?
It would be there when it would
if it could, if it should be.

With so many nets of my own
to untangle
I had no choice but to let her go
and see how the tide would flow.
Meanwhile, I watch the shoreline
from my window
or sit up on the roof
when my day’s work is done
gazing at the place
where the sun falls into the ocean--
I pray for her and me
I think about love and hope
and I let it flow.

Finally, if you’ve been reading the blog for any length of time, you may know I like to leave things on a positive note as often as I can. Today is my brother’s birthday. He is one of the most generous-of-heart and compassionate people I know, and has been a blessing to me and others all his life. I’m remembering a time, one of many, when his compassion came in the form of humor.

I had been under a lot of stress with student-teaching and final exams. I was trying to study and was feeling very cranky. My brother came into the patio whistling a "Mr. Bluebird's on my shoulder" kind of tune and greeted me cheerfully. I only grunted. I guess he could see my frustration—who couldn’t? He offered me a piece of cream pie from the extra fridge in the patio. I all but snapped, “No thank you!”  He quietly served himself a piece and sat down across from me at the patio table.

He took a forkful of his pie, and then another, and another…. And what my brother proceeded to do with that pie…well, I can’t tell you without telling the whole gross funny story. But he did it all with straight-face and it was more ridiculous than I’m sure you can imagine. It still makes me laugh remembering. Sometimes on the worst days grieving Pat, when it was just too much, when for healthful reasons I needed to “snap out of it” or at least take a break from the worst of the sorrow, the memory of my brother’s whimsical compassion came back to me and truly lightened my burden for a while. Happy birthday to my dear brother.

A few prompts for journaling/discussion:

  1. Tell of a way compassion can be shown in unexpected, or nontraditional, even humorous ways.
  2. Recall a movie-scene that shows “strange compassion.” Tell what happened? (I’m thinking of the slap fight between Sally Field and Olympia Dukakis in “Steel Magnolias” or the entire movie, “Calendar Girls.”
  3. Which of the verses from the Sermon on the Mount resonates most with you and might be a mantra for your rough times or for showing compassion for others or a fragile world?
  4. Tell of a time when the best you could do to show love and compassion was just to “let go and see how the tide would go.”

With great love for all my brothers and sisters--and that includes YOU,