October 19, 2007

Memory and Compassion

Before I was a friar I was in the direct care business with the mentally retarded/developmentally disabled community. One of the most physically and emotionally strenuous aspects of my job was doing "outings." They were necessary though. Everyone deserves to get out of the house, to try to shop for themselves as well as they can, to go out for recreation or a treat from time to time.

You got to learn first hand how inaccessible to wheelchairs many places still remain, and you had to deal emotionally with the folks who stared at the clients or who looked at you the way people look at you when you have a cute dog.

Sometimes I see similar folks on an "outing" with their staff and helpers. And I'm reminded to pray for all of them, in thanksgiving for those having a good time, and for the patience of those who are working.

And then I think about the infinity of life and work situations of which I am ignorant and thus am not led immediately to an automatic compassion, and I pray to be patient and compassionate even when the struggles and sufferings of others are hidden from me.

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