Voluntary displacement

What am I doing to be compassionate? This was the question I asked myself while reading another book I just started, “Compassion”. I feel the same way former vice-president of the United States Hubert Humphrey quoted when asked about compassion and politics, “Gentlemen, look at this pencil. Just as the eraser is only a very small part of this pencil and is used only when you make a mistake, so compassion is only called upon when things get out of hand. The main part of life is competition; only the eraser is compassion” According to the definition, compassion means “to suffer with”. It asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless.(Compassion*) I found myself asking so many questions about church and others, about my own spirituality, about my own life, about my future, the future of the ministry, about how I would like for others to be or not to be, and to act; but deep in me; in the inner and most deeper part of my soul there is still a question: am I truly a compassionate person? Or do I pretend to be compassionate while I hide myself in the long hours reading, studying and trying to show myself broken before others? To be compassionate means to suffer, and even though I would like to live a life understanding and embracing suffering, in reality I don’t want to suffer and I don’t have any idea how to suffer with others. “Voluntary displacement (to move or to shift from the ordinary or proper place) leads us to the existential recognition of our inner brokenness and thus brings us to a deeper solidarity with the brokenness of our fellow human beings. Community as the place of compassion, therefore always requires displacement. The Greek word for church, ekklesia, indicates that, as Christian community, we are people who together are called out of our familiar places to unknown territories, out of our ordinary and proper places to the places where people hurt and where we can experience with them our common human brokenness and our common need for healing”(The Dance of Life). Is my unfulfilled life part of not being able to live and practice compassion? Lord why I am tormented with all these questions, with all these thoughts, “take my tired body, my confused mind, and my restless soul into your arms and give me rest, no! Don’t give me rest until I can find myself in the middle of being a compassionate person even if my whole life is taken away. If I am living to serve you, I need to learn how to be compassionate.

¿Qué estoy haciendo para ser una persona compasiva? Esta era mi pregunta mientras leía otro libro que apenas comencé: Compasión. Me siento de la misma manera que el ex-vice presidente de los Estados Unidos Hubert Humphrey dijo cuando le preguntaron de la relación entre la compasión y la política, “Señores vean éste lápiz. Así como la goma es tan pequeña y solo se usa para corregir errores, la compasión se usa cuando algo se ha salido de nuestro control. La parte principal de nuestra vida es la competencia; solo la goma es compasión”. De acuerdo a la definición compasión significa “sufrir con”. Nos pide que vayamos donde duele, que entremos en lugares de dolor, que compartamos en quebrantamiento, miedo, confusión y angustia. La compasión requiere que seamos débiles con el débil, vulnerable con el vulnerable, y sin poder alguno con el que no tiene poder. (Compasión). Me encuentro preguntándome mucho acerca de la iglesia y de los demás, acerca de mi propia espiritualidad, acerca de mi vida, acerca del futuro, del futuro del ministerio, acerca de cómo me gustaría que los demás fueran o no fueran, y de cómo deben actuar; pero en lo profundo de mi, en la parte mas profunda e intima de mi alma existe una pregunta: ¿soy en verdad una persona compasiva? ¿O aparento ser compasivo mientras me oculto en las horas de lectura, estudio y tratando de mostrarme como una persona quebrantada? Ser compasivo significa sufrir, y a pesar de que quiero vivir una vida entendiendo y abrazando el sufrimiento, en realidad no quiero sufrir y ni tampoco se como sufrir con los demás. “el desplazo voluntario (moverse o cambiarse de lo ordinario o de lugares propicios) nos dirige a reconocer existencialmente nuestro quebrantamiento interior y eso nos lleva una y mas profunda solidaridad con el quebrantamiento de nuestros compañeros en la vida. La comunidad como un lugar de compasión, siempre requiere el desplazarse. La palabra Griega de “Iglesia”—ekklesia—indica que como comunidad cristiana, estamos llamados juntamente a salir de nuestros lugares familiares e ir a territorios desconocidos, salir de nuestros lugares ordinarios y propios a lugares donde la gente es lastimada y en donde podemos experimentar con ellos nuestro quebrantamiento común y nuestra necesidad de sanidad” (La Danza de la Vida) ¿acaso será que el sentirme no satisfecho en mi vida es por casusa de no ser una persona compasiva? “Señor ¿porqué me atormento con todas estas preguntas?, ¿con estos pensamientos? “Toma mi cuerpo cansado, mi mente confundida y mi alma intranquila y llévala a tus brazos para poder descansar” ¡NO, Mejor no! No me des descanso hasta que pueda encontrarme siendo una persona compasiva aún si mi vida entera se acaba. Si vivo para servirte, necesito aprender a ser compasivo.


3 thoughts on “Voluntary displacement

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  1. Wow Miguel. Your honesty is an encouragement to me. I know I also often just want to avoid suffering – my own and others, but that is not Jesus’ heart for me. Thanks for another thoughtful post! Y puedo practicar mi espanol tambien! 🙂

  2. Miquel: I’m just now reading Compassion through for the second time. This morning I read the chapter on displacement and found great encouragement for my place as a pastor in a “foreign” land and away from family and long time friends. It’s always good to find a fellow traveler. Peace.

    1. Beth, I am glad to hear that you have also being touched by the words of Henry. The problem is that sometimes we could easily feel as foreigners even in the midst of the closer people we have. Even as a pastor or serving in a big church…being a foreigner is nothing to do with being in another country. It is when we find this foreignness in us that we can help others. Peace to you wherever you are…

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