A Balm for All Wounds

Feb 2020 Photo

Recently, I came across the above words by Etty Hillesum.  Etty was a Jewish woman who lived in Nazi-occupied Holland and who later died in Auschwitz.  During her life she practiced a compassion that calls us today.  Her compassion speaks to me in her words: “We should be willing to act as a balm for all wounds.”  

Etty Hillesum’s words took on particular meaning for me as I reflected upon Step Two of the Twelve Steps to a Compassionate life: Look at Your Own World.  We are encouraged to discover what we must do to create a better world and to meet the challenges of our times.  During Step 2, the suggestion is made to take ourselves mentally to the summit of a high mountain, where we can stand back and see things from a different perspective.

As I stand on the mountain three things are important to me: 1. holding a Globe in my hands representing my presence in both my Local Community and a Global Community, 2. holding a balm in my heart for myself and the wounds of our world, and 3. recognizing the presence of the Divine who inspires my heart to be compassionate.

My learnings on the mountain continue to inspire me.  Ever present compassion is our companion as we toil with our strengths and weaknesses, as we work for change in so many areas of our lives, our Nation, and our World.  The one category that continues to nudge at me is Culture.  I lived and traveled internationally for eight years and I remember how long it took me to stop and realize everyone was not like me, but of a different culture.  Others helped me to change.  So let’s help each other to change and act as a balm for the wounds in our Local Community and Global Community.

Artisans of Justice and Peace

Heart Logo

I have been given the wonderful opportunity to share this blog space with Sister Henrita. Over the next 12 months we plan  to use The 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong to explore compassion both internally (toward self) and externally ( toward others). We start January with Step One – Learning About Compassion.

In her first blog post of 2020, Sister Henrita wrote about compassion by quoting Pope Francis, “Day by day, the Holy Spirit prompts in us ways of thinking and speaking that can make us artisans of justice and peace.” Artisans are makers. They create. They solve problems. They work with their hands. Their crafts are rooted in generations of studying and their skill takes time and effort to learn.

I come to compassion through Buddhist study and meditation. Buddhism has two great wings, wisdom and compassion. They co-exist. They cannot exist alone. I have come to understand that compassion is a transformation of my own heart and mind. It happens only in the moments I can fully turn towards kindness. It feels like a whole body act of softening and opening. Compassion is rooted in my highest intention of safety (physical, emotional and spiritual) for myself and for others. For me, it is a creative act. It takes skill and practice, study and diligence. When I feel the two great wings, I can trust that my heart and mind are in service of my highest intention.  I can act without fear of harm.

Karen Armstrong ends this first step by reminding us that the sages, prophets and mystics were, “innovative thinkers, ready to use whatever tools lay to hand in order to reorient the human mind and pull their societies back from the brink.” (p.64)

Compassion is hard and loving work. It is creative. It takes patience. It is joyful and it is heartbreaking. And it is worth it.

Let us all be artisans of justice and peace.

Sara Neall

“Peace A Journey of Hope. . .”

Peace-journey of hope photo

“Peace A Journey of Hope. . .”

Pope Francis

Close to the dawning of the New Year, I completed the Mandala pictured above.  A flock of Doves, each equipped with an olive branch, inviting us, leading us on a Journey of Peace – Peace satiating the World Community.  Are we ready for the journey, for its challenges?

The Year 2020 dawned with joy and excitement.  Yet, it seemed overshadowed with threats of insecurity, uncertainty and rumblings of warlike behavior.  Nevertheless, let’s remember the World Community is our responsibility.  What is our Hope for 2020?  Of course Peace, that Peace may come.  Too optimistic to think it will?  Yes, but let’s be optimistic and live a Journey of Peace.

Although we are not Doves, but human beings with the desire and hope for Peace deep within our hearts, let’s be dove-like and join them.  Let’s make our daily journey one of peacemaking.  Doves are not only symbols of peace, love and compassion, but also messengers.  Our message needs to be loud and clear.  I’ll use the familiar words of the Peace Pole, “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”  Take time to choose the message with which you will frequently support the World Community.

In his message, “Peace A Journey of Hope,” for the 53rd World Day of Peace, Pope Francis, wrote profoundly about Peace.  One of his statements that rests in my heart is, “Day by day, the Holy Spirit prompts in us ways of thinking and speaking that can make us artisans of justice and peace”.  My desire is to be an artisan of justice and peace.  I continue to pray and live that Peace may come, as I journey with you and my Dove Community.  My hope is to be an artisan of justice and peace.  Let’s do it together!

January 16, 2020



We Are the Ones

Purple with SSND Logo

We are the ones

who can create a

Compassionate World

for all beings.

How do you feel when you hear those words:  We are the ones!  Can I say to myself, can each of us say to ourselves:  I am “the one” who can create a compassionate world for all beings?  We each have our Local Community area and are members of a global community, a World Community.  I decided to research how many of us make up the current world population.  As of September 2019, according to the United Nations, the current world population is 7.7 billion individuals.  Overwhelming, but hold it, there are more beings, such as animals and the earth itself, craving to be part of a compassionate world.

From one end of the earth to the other, we are needed.  So where do I begin?  Right where I am rooted and interconnected?  What is my specific role?  Perhaps roaming the earth and offering compassion, sowing seeds of compassion?  That’s a wonderful dream!  But reality jolts me.  The needs of suffering children break my heart.  My sisters and brothers needing food, clothing and shelter overwhelm me.  Often these needs seem to be set aside.  Our focus seems to be the political trials of our nation.  Then there are the challenges that exist almost in every area of our World Community.  Whatever happens in our nation impacts the world community and whatever happens in the World Community impacts us, for We Are One.

As I reflect on all of this, my heart moves with the yearning to fill my Local Community and World Community with compassion.  I remember years ago a practice I had of standing outside in open air breathing Peace into the world believing that Peace would travel worldwide.  I hope that it did.  Today I breathe Compassion hoping it travels to the World Community.  Reality brings me from the desire to travel the earth with compassion to continue to participate in the development of a compassionate community where I am planted, and be motivated by compassion to take responsibility for the care of each other.

November 26, 2019

We are the Ones

A Revolution of Compassion

Heart in Hand

Visualize, dream, envision. . .
a revolution of compassion

A video for the celebration of the
Tenth Anniversary of the
Charter for Compassion
November 12, 2019

With heartfelt compassion
we present this video hoping
that we will help foster a
revolution of compassion for
the sake of our world community.

Click on photo to view video


Pain So Deep Compassion May Not Be Imaginable


Interactions with others can sometimes create the awareness that some people experience so much pain from significant people in their lives that compassion doesn’t seem possible.  The hurt is so profound!  Not too long ago an occurrence brought me to an intense experience.

Tears were flowing!  Words seem to be saying, “compassion is impossible for me” referring to a significant person in her life’s experience.  Consoling wasn’t possible.  Time’s passage, also time’s reflecting on its impact, didn’t seem an option for altering its Influence.  Saddened by her tears, I offered some thoughts regarding moving forward with what I felt was self-compassion.  Suddenly, I was saddened because somehow I didn’t realize that words were empty, comfort was the need of the moment.  Then, who really understands the need of each moment of sorrow?  Yet, I think I learned something about myself for future moments of encounter with my sisters and brothers overwhelmed with suffering.  Surely there will always be surprises as I sense the frailty of my human nature.

My reflections also brought me to our whole universe daily penetrated with words and actions filling all of creation with pain.  There is a desire, a call to embrace not only one person with compassion, but the whole world.  An enormous mission held by countless people worldwide.  Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of the Charter for Compassion is a consolation that love and compassion are universal.  But then we have the daily reminders of a world encompassed by global pain.

At some point, I heard the words of Joanna Macy: “The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.”  The heart is present to me in several images, sizes and colors which daily remind me of the pain of Creation.  What could containing the whole universe possibly mean for me, for all of us?  We are presently in Week Three of the ecumenical Season of Creation (September 1 – October 4) which calls us to dwell as sisters and brothers in a common home with a web of life made up of millions of species.  This can give us a sense of the universe, but there is so much more, known and unknown.

We are sisters and brothers entrusted with Creation – all of it!  Do we have the courage to break open our hearts to contain the whole universe?  Its mystery is overwhelming!  We are the ones responsible to fill the world with love and compassion, one moment at a time, one person at a time, and on and on we live with each challenge, with each call.  Remember, the world is depending on you and me.

On November 12, 2019 the Charter for Compassion will celebrate its tenth anniversary.

Join us, the World needs your Love, Compassion and Wisdom.

Visit: http://www.charterforcompassion.org

Still the Voice of Hate

Still the voice of hate
Stir the voice of compassion
Then all shall be well

Summoning compassion, wondering where it is, yet knowing it is always here, there, everywhere waiting to be ignited.  Deep within I know that I need to hold the torch of compassion.  It’s easy to wonder if I have the power.  Daily I hear words of hate coming from many directions and I question if my voice of compassion can penetrate and quell hatred.  However, I have hope that I can help.  But the potency of it is best in collaboration with others.  Our times may be inspiring us to move from I to We!  We can be companions on the journey that help transform hate to love and compassion.  The Charter for Compassion offers us numerous opportunities for this endeavor.

Yet I don’t know how much time I have or the world has; it is a mystery.  All I know is that there is a beginning moment, the now moment.  I am moving from the now moment to be present to the world in its fleeting moments.  I was overwhelmed after researching the meaning of hate.  I came to the conclusion that its meaning and feeling is for the person and/or persons who experience it.  We cannot define it for another, but can grow in awareness of our moments of feeling hate arising.  Do we remember any such moments?  The challenge is to move our attention to sowing seeds of love and compassion.

As I was thinking about moving this reflection along, my inspiration was to begin identifying some of the chaos that is ever present.  Then I recalled that we constantly hear it in many ways, particularly in the news of the world.  We are called to be persons who transform the World Community to a Global Community of Peace!

An image has come to me of the Lotus Flower.  It grows in murky, muddy water and becomes a beautiful blooming flower.  We can’t imagine the depth of the muddy water that we are in, but we know that together we can and will emerge.  Mystery is ever present, but together we can enable the mystery to unfold in a positive way.  It is our legacy to help it happen.

hen blog

On November 12, 2019 the Charter will celebrate its tenth anniversary.
Join us, the World needs your love, compassion and wisdom.
Visit: http://www.charterforcompassion.org


The Joy Compassion Brings


“The joy that compassion brings is one of the best-kept secrets of humanity. It is a secret known only to very few people, a secret that has to be rediscovered over and over again.”

~Henri Nouwen

 Have you ever reflected about “the joy that compassion brings?”   Or is it a surprise to hear the words “the joy that compassion brings.”  Take a moment to reflect about compassion in your life and interactions: compassion for yourself and joy, compassion for others and joy!  Compassion for others has its home in compassion for oneself, knowing the experience and feeling its true joy and compassion.

A crucial hope for our world is the coming of Peace for all of Creation.  Love and Compassion are fundamental to the journey toward Peace.  Imagine the feeling of joy that the coming of World Peace could bring.  When we experience that joy, we understand the joy compassion brings to us.  The challenge of the moment is for each of us to continue the compassionate journey within ourselves and bring it to the needs of the local and global community.  Let’s sprinkle the World with our secret, “the joy that compassion brings”.

  On November 12, 2019 the Charter for Compassion will celebrate its tenth anniversary.

Join the Charter!  The World needs your love, compassion and wisdom.

Visit: http://www.charterforcompassion.org

Compassionate Response

June Comp. Blog

Each day I wonder, do I want to know the news, the latest happenings, in our Global Community? This includes the nation, the United States, where I live. I cannot separate the reflections into them and us. Everything we do individually and/or collectively has the potential to heal or harm our Global Community. We are interconnected and interrelated for we are sisters and brothers, even though the daily news sometimes contradicts that belief.

The Christine Center has chosen to be a member of the Charter for Compassion. Therefore, we are called to be compassionate responders to the suffering of all beings and the earth. Pope Francis reminds us: “Small yet strong in the love of God, like Saint Francis of Assisi, all of us are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live and all its people.”

We invite all who come to the Christine Center, to join us as we aspire to be faithful to the call to compassion. Why? Because we are the ones who can make a difference! Yet, we may also know the experience of turning away from the call because of the daily chaos present in the Global Community. Sometimes we need to let go of the global picture and keep our focus on the local picture, remembering the local situations affect the global. The fragile world is always there.

Each day as I pray for the graces that I hope for, I pray for love, compassion and wisdom. I always include wisdom because for me it is the discernment that leads me to compassionate responses. I share this because I believe wisdom will support and enlighten us as we receive compelling calls to compassion. Sometimes we need help to know what our hearts are being called to.

There are many challenges not only to action, but also to reflection within the Charter for Compassion. At this time the embodiment of the Golden Rule in the Charter calls me, for it’s about everyday life, every interaction – “Treat others and the Planet as you would like to be treated.” It is also important to remember that the Golden Rule is integral to all major world religions. Let’s hope that each day we might have the energy to respond to the call to compassion. Remember, particularly on the tired days, to be compassionate to oneself. Also, remembering our Global Community is desperate for a piece of our compassion.

On November 12, 2019 the Charter will celebrate its tenth anniversary. Join us, the World needs your love, compassion and wisdom.

Visit: http://www.charterforcompassion.org

Journey to Transformation

henrita mandalaFrequently I reflect on the above mandala whose message speaks to me about transformation. Recently, I participated in a workshop with my congregation. As the delightful speaker was emphasizing transformation, I realized the “Butterfly Life Cycle” was present within me. She was speaking about the chrysalis stage, the stage when the caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

Just what I needed! I sat with my butterflies and entered into the journey to becoming a butterfly. My being was drawn into the chrysalis stage. The metamorphosis from a caterpillar into a butterfly occurs during this stage. The caterpillar’s old body dies and a new body forms inside a protective shell known as a chrysalis. During this stage, of ten to fourteen days, the caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly.

Wouldn’t it be delightful, I say to myself, if I could be transformed in just 10 to 14 days. I have come to know every day is a day in the chrysalis stage – a day for working on transformation – a day hoping to be surrounded by hearts and filled with love, compassion and wisdom.

The journey continues…

henrita butterfly