Many ask, “Why does God allow…hunger, poverty, sickness, disabilities, etc.?” This quote from Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche Community, awakened a new awareness for me. He wrote, “There are many hungry people in our world. God is not going to send down some bread from trees, because if somebody is hungry, it’s our problem. If somebody is sick it’s my problem; it’s your problem. If somebody is closed up in an institution because he has a disability, it’s my problem. We have to do something about it…It’s up to you and me, but God will give us strength if we open our hearts to God and ask for that strength.”
What came to my attention was the gift of compassion we have been given. You may have heard it said that we are God’s hands in the world. Usually when I hear this I feel guilty because I am not doing enough to help others. What I saw in this Vanier quote is the gift of compassion. If all is not provided as bread falling from heaven then we have the opportunity to learn compassion by giving compassion.
Haven’t we been awakened to compassion because at least one person was compassionate to us? And because of that experience we desired to increase compassion in our lives? This compassionate person delighted in us and gave us the ability to seek and share compassion. Then when we share compassion with another we experience greater compassion. Usually I experience more compassion when it is flowing through me to another. It is this oneness with the flow of infinite love and compassion as we extend compassion to another that we truly know and experience compassion.
I invite you to breathe in compassion and while breathing out extend it to one other sentient being, a loved one, a difficult person, a cat, dog, or tiger.
 Vanier, J. (2006). Encountering the Other. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, p. 60-61.