Today we’re looking at the last of 5 desired outcomes for a life that loves to happen. And this one has to do with how we’re spending our time.
Sometimes, even a very busy, hard-working person will look back and wonder, did I spend my time on the right things? Every day I give away another day; what am I giving it to? Is it worth it? Has it been a life well spent?
The poets tell us about some inner music that helps us achieve the life well spent. It’s compassion. Meister Eckhart writes, in a poem titled, So Fragile As We Grow:
The heart only reflects the sky when it is giving and compassionate.
Who would want to stand before a mirror that was shattered,
and thus distorts our beauty; an oasis for all life
the soul becomes when it is unveiled.
Compassion is about opening up, becoming a bigger person, he says. It’s about making the heart more open, like the sky. But it starts with how I look in the mirror.
If I don’t accept myself, then I might not be accepting of others. If I’m not forgiving toward myself, I might not be forgiving toward others. If I’m not compassionate toward myself, I might not be toward others. And that, Eckhart says, shatters my image of myself and “distorts our beauty.”
Personally, I need this reminder from Marion Parker: “Be kind—everyone you meet is fighting a battle.” It’s so easy to take others for granted. But compassion is about getting all worked up inside over someone, and then doing something about it.
An interviewer said to Mother Theresa, “You’ve done so much for others, is there anything we can do to help? Do you need money?” She said, “No, we’re fine.” “But is there anything we can do?” She said, “Well, you might find someone who needs a friend and be a friend to them.”
I read of a man who decided to regard himself as a one-person charitable institution. So he went through life giving away gifts of kindness, true listening, laughter, sharing tears, giving encouragement. And, really, it takes so little time to do that—sometimes, only a moment. It’s about cultivating a listening, compassionate heart.
And as we work on that, Eckhart says, we grow into a person who can be an oasis to someone who has been through the deserts of life. “Oasis,” what a beautiful description of a human being: someone who can be a refreshing presence.
So the cultivation of compassion will help us stand at the end and say, “Yes, there was a lot of busyness, but I made time to be there when it counted. Mine was a life well spent.”