Rev. Wayne Walder: Compassion

by Reverend Wayne Walder

Well, I lost it this morning. There was an unknown car parked across our driveway and I called the police. After ticketing it, the police asked if I wanted it towed and I said yes. I no longer get angry at these things. There were four cars at the back of the shared driveway and I figured one of them would want to get out on a cold and rainy morning. I took no pleasure in doing this.

Much of my thought process was mechanical: cars need to get out, this car is blocking them, it needs to be removed. But just after they began towing it, I felt compassion. What if the driver had been sick, or tired when they parked? What if they did not have the money to get the car out of the police parking pound? How would they even get to the pound?

My compassion did not replace the inconvenience this person caused my neighbours who share the driveway and me. It just began to grow inside me.

Compassion takes time. You have to let your immediate reaction go. You have to think about what is happening or what has happened, or about what parts of the story you may not understand. You have to let your guard down. You have to open up to a slightly larger picture. Your perception clumsily grows.

I lost it because even though I am reading about compassion, I forgot this morning. I may have caused someone great pain. I did not have to do it. If I chose to walk to work in the rain, I would not have melted.

I have a choice. Not always but often. I can do my thing and go my way. I can justify my actions, rationalize my acts. Or I can allow a bigger picture of any situation to enter my awareness. And in this bigger picture, I can invite compassion.

I will try to remember this more often, even though it can change me and the situation and even though it takes more time and makes me vulnerable. Even though it can break my heart … because before I die, I’d like a bigger heart.


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