Compassion has a human face.
It was that first day at school feeling, all over again. Except now I was 27. I stepped into the London School of Theology dining hall, confronted by a deafening sound of voices and clanking plates and an overwhelming sea of faces.
I was dressed in black leathers and motorcycle gear with my crash helmet in hand, but the child within felt tiny, lost and intimidated. I glanced around, searching for anyone familiar, a spare seat next to someone I vaguely recognised. Nothing – and no-one.
And then, surprisingly, my eyes settled on a young woman walking towards me, smiling, a striking look of care and kindness on her face. Jo reached out and asked me if I would like to join her and her friends at her table.
She was a stranger showing compassion to a stranger. I felt rescued and relieved. A sense of being invited, welcomed, the beginnings of belonging. It felt good, warm, strengthening, sacred. And I have never forgotten it.
This Jo came to mind afresh this Easter. It’s so easy to reduce our humanity, and our spirituality where we hold it, to abstract principles. But Jo’s example speaks to me of something different – to reach out with kindness and show compassion.
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