Friday, 24 September 2021

Compassion, courage and contemplation

A COUPLE of weeks ago, the Anglican Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Steven Croft, visited our locality and spent time with the community and church members.

The essence of his message at the evening meeting was so inspiring, not just for the church but also as food for thought for all of us, that I have based the following on his own summary.

In three words, we could all aspire to be more contemplative, more compassionate and more courageous.

We may pause long enough just to be; to contemplate the beauty that is around us — a flower in a window-box or the beauty of the Chilterns; to think of all the goodness we encounter in the people around us; to marvel at those who give their all to help others in the tragedies we know so much about these days and to wonder at the extraordinary power which shines through them — seeking God.

This conscious slowing down to contemplate may give us a greater capacity for compassion, as we imagine the impact of a particular tragedy and appreciate the triumph of goodness over evil, while developing an attitude of mercy.

How we can and should be part of enabling others to overcome adversity depends on how close we are to the situation and in what ways we can bring comfort and practical help, embodying the compassionate love of God for each person.

However, if it is from our hearts that compassion arises, it can also be stifled by our lack of willpower.

It takes courage to move, both metaphorically and in reality, out of our comfortable armchairs. It takes courage to look into ourselves and see what needs to change and take action.

It takes even more courage to resist the flow of what has become “generally acceptable” and stand up for what is right and good, to discern when it is appropriate to speak out or quietly bear the hostility, and to accept our own adversity with fortitude — acting with the courage God gives us.

For Christians, our example is Jesus Christ, the only Person who embodied all these qualities perfectly, a life of contemplation and close relationship with his Father God; being moved with compassion for everyone in need and courageous beyond anything we can imagine.

But think what might happen in our community if each of us, whatever our beliefs, could find time to contemplate just a little more often, could show a little more compassion each day and could summon up a little more courage to do what is right and good?

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