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When we are compassionate, we are caught up in our fullest humanity

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT by Rev Ellie Charman, of the Scottish Episcopal Church

Compassion. The ability to suffer with. This past year has been a great struggle for many of us, physically and mentally. Exhaustion and fatigue are common – not just in those people who have worked so hard on the front lines providing services to others. It is present in many more lives than we care to think about.

Suffering may have included personal loss and grief; or the ongoing decline of those we love. Several comments this week were about the weariness felt as one approached Easter. Yet there was a lightness in spirit as people gathered as they celebrated something other, something divine.

One of my coping mechanisms when faced with so much grief is to occasionally withdraw from the world. The example shown to me in retreating in order to collect one’s thoughts is given by my mentor, Jesus Christ. Each moment of emotional challenge requires a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual response. A compassionate reply that not only comforts but brings restoration. Both of which are echoed by the life of my mentor.

He has already walked this path, embodied humanity in a way that draws us, each Eastertide, to come together and celebrate his life. One full of compassion and love. Henri Nouwen suggests that compassion is nothing more or less than the "full immersion in the condition of being human". When we are compassionate, we are caught up in our fullest humanity.

To be compassionate requires one to become more Christ-like, and therefore more human, and also therefore more divine. Compassion demands the courage to be caught up in this world without being crushed by it. In our communities, we see and experience countless examples of compassion as communities gather and work together. May our communities of Caithness continue in their love and compassion for one another for years to come.

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