|Here are two men who understand the power of compassion. So does Cardinal Sconborn.|
Lately my life has seemed surreal. It's been book ended by child abuse. When at work, I am with victims of child abuse, both physical and sexual, and when I'm home I'm reading about the same kinds of abuse in the Church. There are days I have a very dark view of humanity. There are nights I struggle to sleep and then when I do sleep I struggle with dark things in my dreams. These are not classic nightmares. These are exhausting dreams of trying to figure out what I can't seem to figure out. Then I leave for work exhausted complete with blood shot eyes. I fight to find the compassion that makes the most difference to the people I work with while I simultaneously try to maintain a slim thread of patience for the people I work for. When I leave work for home, I can't help but wonder who is more compromised. Struggles in daytime lead to more struggles at night time.
I struggle with the same things about the Church as well. I wonder just who is more compromised, the abusers or the abused, the clergy or the laity who can't seem to comprehend the actions of too many of the clergy, and I wonder about myself and my own struggles with the Church. I search constantly for bright spots, just even little bright spots that lighten the darkness just even a little. And I always find them--if I remember to look.
I frequently find those bright spots, spots that might be just a little more light for me, are huge spotlights for others. For instance, it's the twenty something young man at work whose daily night time bed wetting is now down to maybe three or four times a month because we were able to give him some relief from his endless nightmares about his biological parents. Parents who duct taped him to floor, or threatened to drown him, or locked him in a closet. That by the way was his toilet training at two and a half. I like to think part of his improvement is that the little terrorized boy he will always carry within him finally feels safe. This small step for me is a huge door, opening to a much brighter future, for him. It means he may actually be able to live independently in the future. And yet, we still have a long way to go before that happens. I say 'we', because he will not walk those miles alone. Not yet.
As far as the Church goes, I found a bright spot there as well. Oh not in Philadelphia or New York or Washington or Minneapolis or Rome. It's all still dark there. No, I found it in Vienna--again. Just when I am ready to explode over the NOM information released in Maine about the collusion of US Bishops with NOM's disgusting political strategies, there was Cardinal Schonborn. It seems a Roman Catholic Cardinal took the step of reinstating a young gay man to his parish's pastoral council over the objections of the parish pastor. Cardinal Schonborn took the young man and his partner to lunch, and over lunch got to know them both and determined there were reasons the young man was voted to the parish council. This is almost incomprehensible to me. Truly. Probably because I'm much more familiar with American Cardinals like Dolan using his personal blog to further the agenda of gay bashing bigots like Bill Donohue. As I've written in the past, I like Cardinal Schonborn very very much because I actually think compassion is higher value for him than lock step obedience.
And finally, there is the spotlight given to the Dalai Lama by the Templeton Foundation. The Dalai Lama was announced as the winner of the 2012 Templeton Prize. Part of the statement from the Foundation read:
"The Dalai Lama offers a universal voice of compassion underpinned by a love and respect for spiritually relevant scientific research that centers on every single human being."
Oh, there's that compassion word again. Funny how I associate that word with real spiritual leadership. Maybe it's because everything I do when I'm at work shows me compassion makes a measurable definable difference in people's lives. Not guilt, not shaming, not condemnation, not self righteous judgment, but compassion. And forgiveness. And love.