Love, Compassion, and Forgiveness
Updated: Apr 5
Love, compassion, and forgiveness. The design of these words were demonstrated to me by Algonquin Medicine Man Pete Bernard during my training in medicine work. They have become my tenants of living intentionally the past several years. Not unfamiliar concepts, but as landmarks used to navigate life's waters, the results provide buoyancy. In the turbulent circumstances of this year's pandemic and social upheaval, such guiding lights are of the utmost importance, possibly to our survival.
Compassion is perhaps the unsung hero of this trio of lifesavers. The Latin roots of this word are "com", meaning with, and "pati", meaning suffer. Literally translating to: suffer with. Webster's dictionary defines compassion as a "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it". It is not always feasible to allay the suffering of others. Teaching, encouraging and celebrating the abilities of our fellow humans to maneuver the current of their reality, empowers the individual and inspires growth and reciprocity. The energy of compassion invites the individual into a relationship with themselves and they may use it to embolden others.
At Healing Connections Wellness Centre, it is our joy to hold people in the warmth of compassion. Holding space for a client means to see, hear, and witness them in their truth. To meet them in vulnerability and offer our sympathy for their stories. With healthy boundaries, our "desire to alleviate" their pain must be tempered with a grounded effort to support and not fix. To authentically support others' healing journey, without imposing our will and ego in terms of knowing what's best for another, is a true exercise in compassion. To listen with an open heart and allow space for nearly any reality to simply be, and to move into this experience consciously, is deep compassion. To hold our own lived experiences in patient delay while prioritizing the needs of the other, is compassion in action. The tangibility of this concept now lands on the shores of connection and healing.
The exercise of compassion is not only for healers, nurses, counsellors, and police officers. It must be an authority in everyone's life. Over the years we have seen the exclamation of many human rights and social justice issues. The movements of "Me Too", "Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women", "Water Is Life", "Black Lives Matter" and the semi colon representing mental health and suicide awareness. These issues have affected us all to varying degrees and are screaming out for our attention, our ally-ship and solidarity. The truth behind our shared pain is one of unity and holds the potential to uplift us all. No one needs to be left behind, if we foster the lessons of our collective past.
To leave this world peacefully we must cultivate these things in our lives, more than any other; Love, Compassion and Forgiveness.
As we move toward the fall and winter months of the year, I am offering blessings to all life. May we hold fast to ourselves, our hearts and steer our vessels towards the light of these virtues. Joshua Carter
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” — Dalai Lama
Art by: Ivan Stoyanov