Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Compassion Without Condition

This past week's men's group meeting was a real good one. Not that the other meetings aren't, some meetings are just better because the topic that week may inspire more discussion and that everyone has something to contribute. This past week's topic was ministering to people. One of the questions was "What are some of the reasons that people would let an opportunity to minister to someone pass?" Before anyone can answer that question we really need to ask, "Why do people perform acts of compassion?" What is it that makes a person decide, "I have to do this act of compassion?” “Why do we minister to other people's anguish?" Is it to see the results of our deeds? To see what effect our act of compassion have on the person or persons? Here’s a good one, for the “gratitude or thanks” we get from our deeds? I especially like that last one. What is an act of compassion? An act of compassion should be about easing a person's pain. Physical pain, mental pain, emotional pain, really any form of anguish. Anguish in all its forms may range from hunger to discomfort; loneliness is a form of anguish. I would like to think that, in at least one point of a person's life, there came a time when they decided to perform an act of compassion. But once that decision has been made and acted upon, what happened that the opportunities to act or to minister to others became harder, or rather easier to let pass? Once again... What are some of the reasons people would let an opportunity to minister to someone pass? Talk about a loaded question. The "people" was quickly replaced with "you" or "I". There was no shortage of "what’s". But a lot of time was spent on the following reasons with the common theme of "They are just ripping me off" or "I'm tired of getting burned". I am guessing it is a sentiment that is shared by a lot of people. They don't see what good any of their efforts are doing or can do. There are a lot of problems in this world and it is overwhelming. There are so many people trying to do the right thing or for that matter trying to do anything and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the entire world’s pain. For many, burning out is a concern, others become cynical and the most tragic of all, loss of hope. But it doesn’t have to be that way. An act of compassion, the decision to minister is all about easing a pain, administering to a person’s anguish; do you really want to see the result?
Scenario 1: Jack saw a homeless person at a street corner digging through a trash can looking for something to eat. It is obvious to Jack that the man is hungry, seeing that there is a hotdog stand nearby Jack tells the man that he will buy him a meal. The man thanks Jack for his compassion and Jack continues on his way, not looking back.
Result: After eating the man robbed a market not too far from the corner and injured a few people in the market while running away.
Scenario 2: Alan was walking home from the corner market. As he passed the park he saw an elderly lady sitting on a bench staring out at the lake. She seemed distressed, so he asked her if she was alright. A conversation started and as they spoke her face became more animated. After a while he took his leave and went home.
Result: The lady was feeling a little sad about outliving all her friends. She saw that while talking to Alan, it is still possible to make new friends. She is killed on the way to volunteer for a community outreach program.
Scenario 3: Susan was at a gas station, when a man asked her for any change so he can get bus fare to get home. She was very skeptical, but she felt he genuinely needed the money so she gave him her change. After filling up her car, she then drove away.
Result: The man did need the money to get home, but the bus he was on got into an accident. Many people were hurt, but the man having had intensive first aid training was able to save a number of lives.
Did Susan’s act of compassion, her ministering to that man have more weight than Jack’s or Alan’s acts of compassion? Do outcomes invalidate the decision to act?
We are called to act, we are called to help, and we are called to minister to those around us. We are called to do.

Well, since this was an especially long blog, I will continue the Retreat Stories another time. For the guys in my Men's Group, if I totally misrepresented our discussion... you know where to find me or by all means leave me a scathing comment.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

I had such high hopes for this year...Part II

Well, as it turns out yesterday's list was not enough...

  1. We thought my sister's cancer was all gone, but it wasn't. Now she has to go through radiation treatment.
  2. My other sister is still taking the death of the family dog pretty hard.
  3. I don't really see any improvement with my health.
  4. And now my dad is in the hospital for chest pains.

These were just from yesterday!

I am so glad that I get so much mental, emotional and spiritual help from friends and family. Otherwise I'd be such a basket case. Though I've been told from certain sources that I am a basket case.

Retreat Stories, Part IV: The Emergency Waiting Room

... It was as if a bomb went off. There was about 15 seconds of uneasy silence. I guess they weren't expecting me to just jump in their conversation. So, I explained further, "Ladies, it is 3:30 in the morning, I was just about to doze off and you had to mention coffee." ... Uneasy smiles from them.

"I'm sorry but you just happened to mention one of my addictions and I couldn't let it pass."

So, the late night/early morning conversation went from:

  1. a person's addiction to coffee.
  2. her working at Starbuck's (what were the odds?).
  3. life in Big Bear.
  4. jobs in Big Bear.
  5. high schools in Big Bear (see a theme developing here?).
  6. social life in Big Bear.
  7. boyfriends (their lack of them... heh heh heh)
  8. and finally, what they were doing in a hospital emergency waiting room at 3:30, well by this time 4:00 am.

So their story begins...

I was house-sitting for a friend who was out of town for the weekend and I had Tammy come over to keep me company. We were watching TV when all of sudden we hear screams coming from the backyard. We saw the house owner's cousin on the ground and he was bleeding from his mouth. So we called the police.

Apparently, what's his name (the owner's cousin), was drunk out of his head came over to "hang" with his cousin not knowing that he was out of town. What's his name came in through the back gate and that's where the dogs were.

The dogs?

Yeah. A rotweiller and a German shepherd.

*queue in dramatic organ music*

Normally, it wouldn't be a big deal 'cause the dogs know him. He said he was playing with them too. Until...

Yeah! Until one of them bit him in the lip!

*guarded laughing*

He is a pretty tall guy. About 6 feet tall, the only way either of those dogs could have bit his lip would be if he was sitting down and there were no chairs out there or he was on all fours playing with them.

*she stops to make sure everyone composes this image in their heads*

So I'm thinking he's on all fours playing with these dogs, face to face with his alcohol breath and one of them decided that this boy reeks and bit him!

It was at this point that Tony and Letisha came out of the emergency room to see me and two other ladies laughing our heads off in the waiting room. Tony asked me if I wanted to stay a while...

To be continued...

Disclaimer: The preceeding is not an accurate accounting of what took place, but rather how my memory recorded it.

Monday, October 04, 2004

I had such high hopes for this year...

This year started off with such promise. I was really excited about this year, now I can't wait for it to end. I had some resolutions and I actually thought I had a great chance of keeping them. But those were nothing compared to the bombshells that were dropped on me and mine this year. Let's countdwn shall we?
  1. February: Hit and run driver pegs me on the freeway on-ramp and bolts.
  2. March: The death of a friend.
  3. April: Fallujah, 'nuff said.
  4. May: Latest fad overseas - Beheading people with a pocket knife.
  5. May: Latest fad in America - watching people being beheaded is acceptable but looking at naked women is not acceptable.
  6. June, July August: Bunch of stuff.
  7. August: We learn my sister has cancer.
  8. September: I had to put my dog, Flag, down.

Is this year over yet?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

A Hundred Things in One Day

Okay, maybe there weren't a hundred things, but there was a lot of things going on and other things just kept being added to the pile.
Saturday, October 2, 2004.

  1. a yearly neighborhood yard sale.
  2. a first ever Cornerstone carwash.
  3. a family urgency (not emergency, but an urgency).
  4. a stranding of the go to guy (yeah, me).
  5. lunch (hey, it's a big deal to me)
  6. another urgency.
  7. yard sale breakdown.
  8. Cornerstone's first "Neo-Beatnik" night aka: Art as Worship Night

All this from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. I needed to go for another late night drive after all that.

Neo-Beatnik Night

This was Cornerstone's first attempt at something like this and it was a lot of fun. A lot of people were invited from the neighborhood and from the carwash earlier that day. Some people brought in sculptures, paintings, poems were read, songs were sung, people cooked, I ate, everyone snapped fingers, on hippie clapped (go Rick!), and others massaged. I think now that others now have an idea of what is involved, there may be more participants for the next one. There were a lot of "who is going up first?" or "who is going up next?" silence.

There were a lot of new faces and hopefully those faces will come back and become names and in turn become friends.

Retreat Stories, Part III

It has only been seven hours and I believe I have driven into the "village" a total of five times already. It was getting so that I could almost drive down with my eyes closed. As dark as it was, at times it felt that way. Coming back from town around 1:30 am, I find a few people still up and playing cards in the dining area. I thought I would hang around a while when at around 2:30 am, I learn that Letisha and Tony Wong woke up my room looking for me. Apparently, Tony D. has been experiencing some pain in his side since dinner and he waited until it got so bad to decide that he needed to go to the hospital.

So, Letisha and a moaning and groaning Tony D. got into my car and off we go down the hill to the hospital. Before, everyone get all upset, Tony is alright. As it turns out, Mister Macho Tony D. over did it at the gym the last time he worked out and while unload his truck upon arrival at the retreat site, he aggravated an already pulled muscle. The doctor gave him a shot and some Vicodin and sent him/us on our way.

It is usually at this part where everyone says, "Is that all?!!! We expected more from your stories, Angel!"

Now, here's the weird or "it can only happen to you, Angel" part of the story. While in the waiting room there were these two ladies. Normally, I would be chatting them up, the sociable person that I am, but it was 3:30 am and we were in a hospital emergency room.

They obviously brought someone there and depending on how serious the person's injuries were they may not be up to casual conversation. So, I was going to try to take a little nap when I overheard one of the ladies say that she had the nine to five shift and that she still had to prepare the COFFEE grounds for the day...
Imagine my head snapping to attention. When I say snapping I mean snapping as breaking the sound barrier and creating a gust of wind. So much so that even they notice from across the room.

"Ladies! Now you have gone and done it! Just as I was about to fall asleep, you had to mention my addiction!"

To be continued...

Disclaimer: The preceeding is not an accurate accounting of what took place, but rather how my memory recorded it.