An incredibly joyful friend recently shared that she’s been diagnosed with an incurable, degenerative disease. And as she shared her news, I made that face. The one that speaks of pain, disbelief, injustice and fear. As soon as she saw my face she said “don’t do that to me . . . don’t feel sorry for me!” At the time I thought it was the most courageous and intelligent reaction I’ve ever witnessed. How quickly are we to place our fear and outrage onto others when they share these unfair twists of fate? Instead, perhaps we need to listen for and ask what they need from us after trusting us with their own deep confidences.
This recent chapter was echoed while reading an incredible book by Stephen Levine who eloquently shares:
“Pity arises from meeting pain with fear. Compassion comes when you meet it with love.”
This is such a noble and powerful approach to pain. I wonder how often we can meet our own pain or that of others with pure love? It feels like an incredibly daunting challenge, and yet to consider the ramifications of pity and fear . . . perhaps its enough inspiration to try a new approach.