what is compassion?
As I reflected and attempted to articulate my own definition of the term, I kept coming back to the experiences of when I felt it. I think we know compassion when we feel it, there is something in us, a compassionate instinct. The touch of a hand, the sound of a soothing voice, a bowl of warm soup, someone willing to listen. A technical definition of compassion is “the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.” But notice that the definition largely consists of feelings.
When we look at the life of Jesus, we find a much richer, fuller definition; that genuine compassion moves beyond empathetic feelings and good intentions into love in action. There is perhaps no better example that Jesus uses than the story of the Samaritan, a citizen of an enemy nation, who is moved to care for the dying traveler on the side of the road, and acts to ease his pain, binding his wounds and caring for him until he is healed. The Jesus definition of compassion is caring enough to do something about someone else’s needs.
This year as we look at ways to cultivate compassion in our lives, particularly through the practice of listening, we want to hear the stories of not only those who need our compassion, but also the stories of those who are learning to offer compassion to others. We asked some WMBCers who volunteer at Central Station how their serving there has impacted them, and these are their responses.
“I would say that serving at Central Station has opened my eyes to the needs of others and helped me not to judge others because everyone comes from a different place that has influenced the choices they have made and where they are right now. I have learned that showing the love of Christ can mean listening and taking time to talk to someone and being there for even just their basic needs.”Carol Schulz
“I volunteer at Central Station every other Wednesday. The Food Cupboard is open on Wednesdays, so many people come to get a food voucher from Central Station. When I see “Volunteering at Central Station” on my calendar, I get excited. It’s always a great day. Central Station is a place full of compassion and acceptance. There’s a lot of love there. All of that is because of who Christ is, working through the staff members, volunteers and clients. What I really enjoy are the opportunities to sit down with people and have a visit over a coffee. Most people love talking and so I ask questions. It’s always a great experience to see God at work in many people’s lives in many ways. God is good and it’s so fun to share that with others. I became friends with a particular woman who was new to MB. It was her first time visiting the Food Cupboard and I took down all of her information. She and I had a great connection from the start. Ever since that first day, we look for each other on Wednesdays. She is an artist and a baker, she has shared her gifts with me and I joyfully accept!”Julia Dueck
“I’ve been volunteering for a couple of years, driving clients to and from Food cupboard, every fourth Wednesday. I’ve learned to know the city of Winkler better, and not only the street map. I’ve seen the vulnerable side of many who live among us. One of these people asked me, “Why do you do this?” I asked back, ”Do you need a ride?” “Yes.” I answered, “That’s why I do it.” It doesn’t take a lot to be Jesus’ hands and feet, helping those who need help. That’s why I do it!”Pete Wiebe