Compassion and gladness

Ever consider the link between compassion and joy?  I love how Frederick Buechner knits the two together.  He writes that “Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.”   I find that so fascinating – that the size of our heart and our capacity to feel another’s pain is also the measure of our capacity for joy.  Avoid tragedy and pain and you shrink your capacity to experience joy.  It’s that truth again, that joy never discounts or ignores pain but actually becomes stronger, richer, deeper because of it.

I’m thinking of this because there is a giant among us, a gargantuan of compassion in a pint-sized body who is bringing good joy to the world.  His name is Stephen Brennan, a 5 year old who is part of our church family.  He heard the news of the recent earthquake in Chile and, in that heart two sizes too large for his 5 year old frame, he  knew his joy was somehow linked up with those people in Chile.  So Stephen gets the brilliant idea: “I want to bike to raise money for people in Chile.”

This past week Stephen made the 22 km. trip from his home to his Dad’s downtown office and in the process connected compassion and joy for a lot of people.  His initial goal was to raise $500 but as of today he’s raised over $4000.  Check out the story and pictures here – and you can still give and join in the joy if you want (and check out the joy on people’s faces in the pictures).

Stephen’s generated a lot of gladness – in Chile, Calgary and beyond – because of his big heart of compassion, because joy wins out over tragedy.

My prayer today, then, is for God to break my heart for this bruised world and piece it back together, making more room for a greater joy.

Posted in Joy

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