About Woodpeckers, Opening the Door of My Heart, and Radical Compassion

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The Christine Center’s Door of Mercy and Compassion.

By Henrita Frost, SSND

As so often happens when I am meditating, I hear a woodpecker pecking away at our wooden home called Shekinah. Then the woodpecker travels from the House to the birdfeeder and back again to the House.

One of our maintenance staff told me that a woodpeckers pecked 17 holes in the House in one session.

So what can I expect? It is of the nature of woodpeckers to peck at our Home to find nourishment.

My meditations are also preoccupied by the call to be inclusively compassionate. I remember reading studies that indicate we humans are hardwired for compassion.

Then I remind myself it is of my nature to be compassionate, as woodpeckers by nature peck away at wood.

Where do I find my sustenance for compassion, except by allowing the suffering of others to meticulously peck away at the door of my heart until the barriers to inclusive compassion start one-by-one to fall away.

It’s a long journey of struggling to surrender – to be free for radical compassion.

Pope Francis opened the Jubilee Door of Mercy at St. Peter’s Basilica, which has been followed by a world-wide opening of Doors of Mercy.

The dynamism of these sequential acts inspires me to believe that every door that I go through has the potential to be a Door of Mercy.

My heart also has the potential to open wide as a Door of Mercy and Compassion. For me, this is a profound call to spiritual deepening – so many times I have received that call.

So I begin again by visualizing the Jubilee Door of Mercy and walking through it comforted and strengthened by the refrain of Psalm 136 “For God’s mercy endures forever. . . .For God’s mercy endures forever. . . .

2 thoughts on “About Woodpeckers, Opening the Door of My Heart, and Radical Compassion

  1. I just read this Henrita. Lovely way to start the day, remembering you, woodpeckers, the Center, and just ‘remembering’ itself. And, I appreciate reflecting on mercy too. I feel grateful for many people, places and I guess things too. The loving energy of Pope Francis seems to compel him to speak wholeheartedly to everyone in the world, whether they hear him or not. I am happy that Pope Francis is part of spiritual deepening for global transformation. [Maybe he was part of group 4 and I just didn’t know it!] Smiling with love, gratitude and JOY. Blessings to you, The Christine Center sisters, staff, volunteers, visitors, neighbors, the “widening circles” of humanity, critter hood, tender shoots of green to mature trees, rocks and minerals, and this gem of a planet.


  2. I am deeply moved by the variety of images of the woodpecker in your sharing henritta. As I walked in the brisk cold this morning seeing the beauty of the sun’s brief watercolor in the clouds as it came up and thought about the sound of the woodpecker………the sound signaling it’s way of finding life sustaining nourishment………and seeing it as a reminder to turn back to center………to kind, compassionate, life giving respectful responses “allowing the suffering of others to meticulously peck away at the door to my heart” and the right living jesus teaches. Great images will continue to grow from your sharing.


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