Support the Café

Search our Site

The spiritual practice of compassion

The spiritual practice of compassion

Luke 6:39-49

A friend of mine went to a lecture by a famous person that she really admired. When she talked to me afterwards, she was crestfallen. I asked her what had happened, and she told me that her hero had really let her down and she was very sad about it. “Oh, dear, what did she say?” I asked.

“Oh, the usual,” said my friend. “She was as brilliant as ever. But I overheard her tell some friends a story about how she had managed to get a disagreeable colleague thrown off a committee. She was well enough liked that she became the committee’s chair. At the first meeting she was in charge of she called a vote for his dismissal. After hearing that story I just couldn’t hear the lecture that came afterwards in the same way.”

“Maybe he was a really awful person,” I said.

“Even more reason not to treat him badly,” said my friend.

My friend follows the spiritual practice of caring. This is what Jesus outlined in the passages from Luke that lead up to today’s reading. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” She reads these words not so much as “do this or else” admonitions as “do this and grow” invitations.

Jesus makes a bid for following this practice. We are the blind leading the blind until we learn how to give without hope of return – of our time, our “stuff”, our love and our understanding. We are like people with a log in our eyes trying to see well enough to find a dust mote in someone else’s vision until we are, as Lowell said in yesterday’s reflection, compassionate, just as God is compassionate. This practice is what teaches us how to see.

My friend understood by hearing her hero’s story that she was not a woman who fully realized how to love. All her fine words were like the house without a foundation. She could not back them up with the wisdom that comes from the work of caring.

John Dear, in his book Transfiguration, says, “At best we are fans of Jesus, not followers.” We can quote what Jesus says, admire what he does, and cheer him on mightily – but will we do what he does so that we grow spiritually to be like him? Not so much.

But how else will we come to be who we are most deeply meant to be except by following the Way Jesus lays out? It is only through practice that we build the foundations to our houses, so that our consciousness of the truth stands firm through any flood.

Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and liturgical artist, a writer and lay preacher living in Fort Collins, CO. See her work online at Everyday Mysteries. With others she manages a website for the Diocese of Colorado highlighting congregations’ creative ministries: Fresh Expressions Colorado


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Maryse Quinn

Apologies for quibbling, but the two links to the author’s websites don’t seem to work. I found Fresh Expressions Colorado at , and Everyday Ministries at

thanks ed.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café