"The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest". So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things." - Mark 6: 30-34

Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Fires. Social Inequality. Nuclear War. Watching the news it seems that catastrophes are simply the norm. With so much hurt and injustice in the world it is often easier to ignore what is happening and continue with my day rather than find the time and energy to empathize with people affected by difficult situations. Ignoring other peoples' pain is always going to be easier, but having true compassion for our neighbors is what gives us as the human race the strength and courage to keep living and have hope for the future. Compassion is what makes us human.

This fall my faith community, Jacobs Well, in Minneapolis is asking a lot of questions about compassion and our humanity. A realization we have come upon is this idea that if we numb the negative things in life we end up numbing the joyous things in life. Part of being human is cracking yourself open and being vulnerable so that you can experience both the highs and the lows around you to the fullest. When you are brave enough to witness the ugly parts of the world the beautiful parts seem that much more awe-inspiring. This is HARD and is never something that we can "achieve". Living this way is a choice that we have to fight for in this often negative and superficial society.

In the beginning of the "Jesus feeds the five thousand" story Jesus and the disciples are beat and are trying to find a spot to rest. They are at their breaking point, and Jesus breaks. He needs to rest, but when he sees the people "like sheep without a shepherd" his heart cracks and he chooses compassion. Crack yourself open, be vulnerable, let yourself give love so you are ready to receive it.  

Maia Dalager - VLM Alumni 12, 13, 14, 15