There was a twenty-two-year-old woman, now cancer-free, who was treated at the hospital where I served as chaplain, for eleven years. While she was an inpatient, she received communion daily from our Spiritual Care volunteers. One of the volunteers had a wonderful conversation with her, just before she was discharged, hopefully for the last time. The volunteer wished her well, “You have been through so much and it was so awful. May you be cancer-free forever!” The beautiful, young woman said, “Without suffering, there would be no compassion.” What wisdom from a twenty-two-year-old! Without suffering, there would be no compassion. This patient felt that her own suffering had taught her compassion.
What the patient didn’t know was that the volunteer had just lost her son to cancer. He was a National Park Ranger at Yosemite. He was in his thirties and only married for three years, when he died. This was the volunteer’s first time visiting patients for Spiritual Care Services. She was profoundly moved and inspired by this young patient, who was cancer-free at last. She said that she received so much more than she gave in service to others that morning by volunteering.
Think for a moment about the times of suffering, which you have been through.
Has it made you bitter?
Or has it become a resource for understanding others?
Has it led to greater compassion and empathy for others?
Has it led to greater compassion, even for yourself?
Open your heart and receive this blessing, if you will:
May you tap into that well of deep compassion within you, which helps you to understand the suffering of others.
May you companion the suffering people you encounter today.
May you find all of your connections with others satisfying.
May it be so.