Courage And Compassion
On Wednesday morning in our weekly community circle at the high school, faculty member Carl Busse shared a compelling image of Michaelmas with students and colleagues. He shared the story of a deeply spiritual friend who was drawn to work in Northern Ireland, which was fraught with conflict between the Catholic and Protestant communities. Carl likened his role of bringing together people who harbor such hatred of one another to that of Michael, carrying his sword with the dual edges of compassion and courage. This friend’s response was to shine his sword so brightly that he could reflect back to each group the other’s humanity, helping them realize that the dragon was not living in the man or woman, but in the emotion of hatred itself. This is what was destroying their community and country.
Sadly, this image of hatred was brought horrifically to life yesterday, with the tragic shootings on a college campus in Roseburg, Oregon. This was the fourth shooting on a college campus since August. On average, there is a school shooting every week somewhere in this country. When will it end?
My first thought when I heard the news was of my own daughter – a senior, who will head to college next fall – and whether this made her afraid to go out into a world where hate is so prevalent and people are randomly injured and killed. I cannot give her the assurance that she will be safe and everything will OK. This breaks my heart.
During this time of Michaelmas, where we turn inward and reflect on the darkness within our own souls, we are also called to consider the dragons challenging our larger world. Earlier in the week I planned to write this article on the threat technology poses to our human connections – that quickly paled in light of yesterday’s senseless tragedy and the continued shameful pattern of violence. We are in danger of becoming numb to these gut-wrenching occurrences – we cannot allow that to happen. As Carl so eloquently shared on Wednesday, the dragon we face is not the person. It is the hatred people carry in their hearts. This is what we must have the courage and the compassion to overcome.
I allow the radiant figure to shine into my heart and soul and mind
And so gain the strength to vanquish the dragon.
Powerful, wise spirit of the will,
Weaving in the far reaches of the spirit over all,
Working through spiritual beings —
Surely you are working too
In the depth’s of my soul’s being
So, in loving working, bind fast
My inner life to your illumined strength
In finding you, I find myself.
I look forward to seeing many of you this evening for our celebration of Michaelmas!
Published in the Connection from 10.2.2015