The conference was able to bring in a speaker to lead the retreat and so we got to spend the weekend with Mark Yaconelli. If you are unfamiliar with him, go check out the link, especially if you work with youth in any capacity. I really enjoyed the times we were able to sit and speak to him, to hear his philosophies on ministry and life.
The theme of this retreat was, more or less, about being able to take your Sabbath. To find that place of peace and rest in the midst of our chaotic lives. We also talked a lot about compassion, what that looks like, how to show it, and how to receive it.
I don't know about anyone else but I struggle with showing compassion to others. In my mind I'm secretly thinking, "Geez, you think you have it tough? There are people all over the world so worse off than you." I know, it's horrible! I find that I constantly have to remind myself that pain is pain, regardless of anything else.
During one such session, when Mark was giving us a model of what compassion looks like and how to get there, I thought of my daughter. I specific image came to my mind: Noah, running around, falling and skinning his knee on the asphalt. It immediately began to bleed and he just barely whimpered, struggling as I tried to clean the wound. His loving sister came by and, upon seeing her brother's knee, had tears well up in her eyes. She stood, transfixed by the sight of her brother's physical hurt. Slightly shaking her head back and forth, she repeated, over and over, "Poor, poor bubba."
Once again I find myself wishing I were more like my children. Compassion and empathy comes so natural to them. At what point does that change? At what point do we loose the ability to notice one's suffering and immediately feel compassion towards them?
Mark noted that the first step to showing compassion is seeing them as they really are. Instead of seeing a kid as dirty or annoying or disruptive, we should see them as, well, just a kid. A kid who may be hurting.
My vision is often clouded with my own issues and prejudices.
This weekend with other Youth workers in our area, most of whom I have never met, left me feeling humbled. There is no other word to describe it. However, I also feel that I left that mountain sanctuary with a few more tools in my arsenal. I am so thankful.
May we all be able to truly see those around us.
Picture of Peace...