“Learning Compassion,” by Leslie Manning

This past Sunday (May 26) Leslie Manning brought us a message that grew out of Hebrews 13:1-3:

13 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

She invited us to settle into worship seeking the place where our compassion grows. After a time together in silence, she invited us to go out onto the grounds (as we felt led) and reflect on the passage from Hebrews.

When we returned to the Meeting room, she reflected on the difference between empathy, where the focus remains on what we ourselves are feeling, and compassion, where the focus remains on what another person is feeling or suffering. For many of us, empathy comes more easily than compassion.

To help us learn compassion, she taught us a Buddhist Metta, a meditation practice to learn compassion. In meditation, start with yourself, say inwardly ‘may I be healthy and whole, may I be strong, may I be at ease.’ When ready, move your focus to a friend or loved one, and say inwardly ‘may you be healthy and whole, may you be strong, may you be at ease.’ And then when ready, move your focus again to someone beyond your accustomed circle of family of friends and say inwardly ‘may you be healthy and whole, may you be strong, may you be at ease.’

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