At a high school basketball game with cross-town rivals, compassion stirred within me as a boy was wheeled to the center court at half-time to say “thank you” to the community for supporting him in his 4-month battle to survive a football game head injury. I had been at that big rivalry game. I had been one in a massive crowd that watched that motionless player get loaded into an ambulance.

A wave of compassion washed over me for this once strong and agile football boy who was now subdued in his wheelchair and overwhelmed by stands filled with fans at a wild basketball game. Compassion in considering the grief, loss, sadness, and many struggles his mother behind the wheelchair must still be going through settled in me. I want to take action to help them survive and get through this. If there had been an opportunity for attendees at this packed game to give money right then and there to help this family, I am confident it would have quadrupled the game proceeds benefit check raised and given to them during this halftime. Because nearly every parent I could see around me had eyes brimming with tears…as compassion filled them, along with gratefulness for our healthy sons.

As I reflect on being more compassionate this first month of the year, I do so with a desire to allow and then embrace the feelings of compassion I may have for others I interact with, or come across in my days.

Last week at a downtown red light on a cold January morning, I watched a man with a homeless sign smile brightly at drivers in cars ahead of me. “My Name is JAMES I’m homeless & could use any help” his cardboard sign read.

Will I engage my heart?

He waved a type of joyous, “Good Morning!” to folks as they hoped the red light would change to green so they could hurry to their jobs – to make money… to not have to make eye contact with James or to ever have to hold a sign like that. I felt compassion for James. Fortunately, during this red light, I embraced compassion and took a few needed steps of action to live compassion. It was quite simple.

I dug through my purse and car ashtray, finding a few piles of loose bills. “But what if I need cash later?” fleeted through my mind. Oh, that rational, “safe” voice with an edge of selfish care! “Then I’ll use a card,” my heart spoke to my mind. I am so thankful that I have work, money, a home, a car; I am glad I’m not James, and I hope this helps him in a small way.

With that, the light turned green, I hit the auto-window roll-down button on my passenger side, and waved at this man. He quickly came to my car as I rolled forward to him and stopped momentarily, backing up traffic for 3 seconds. “James,” I said as I handed him the cash, “may God bless you today,” I said. And we shared a smile while he verbally thanked me.

I am certain that some motorist farther behind me didn’t get through that red light because of the 3-second delay I caused by acting on my compassion with James. And I am OK with that!

Compassion is authentic when it moves you to action. True compassion transforms our behaviors.

How can I be on the alert this week – even today? What experience will I allow to slow me in my tracks? What observance will I choose to move me to action to compassionately help someone?

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