An openness of heart. . . An abundance of tender compassion. . . Creative chaos

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By Sister Henrita Frost

Compassionate hearts and chaos are companions on the daily journey of our nation as an integral member of the Global Community. For a long time, the one element in our national events that sometimes disturbs me is “truth”.  Who is speaking the truth? Where is truth? How is its lack influencing what is happening to creation – the environment, all beings, everything?

It seems that the lack of truth invades the chaos we experience. Often communications are crammed with an abundance of words and actions. Sometimes I can’t help but search for truth. Can we count on knowing it or must we live in the mystery of what is truth? Truth is often connected with words and actions that either resonates with who I am and what I believe, or it doesn’t. It also calls me to be respectful of the words and actions of others, and be willing to join them in compassionate dialogue, searching for truth.

Sometimes I sit with the word chaos. Recently I received an inspiration from someone when I heard the words “creative chaos.” To me it means being an agent of positive change in my relationships, my work, and my life in the world. May it also mean creatively allowing the poor, hungry and homeless to touch our compassionate hearts.

Just think about what’s happening with immigrants, migrants, hatred, racism, global warming, poverty, hunger, education for all, guns and so much more. This is chaos, how can we find creative possibilities to bring about positive change in the world? My challenge – come to the center, come to the heart, and be a person of transformation. Most importantly, be a vessel of compassion. As sisters and brothers in this global community, our common challenge is:

“Treat others and the planet
as you would like to be treated.”

Visit: http://www.charterforcompassion.org

Compassion embraces suffering

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By Sister Henrita Frost

Recently, I watched a service led by Pope Francis at the World Youth Day in Panama. Often when Pope Francis leaves a service he pauses at a statue of the Blessed Mother, which he did do. As he stood there, he seemed immoveable, perhaps frozen in time; it seemed a longer pause than on other occasions. It was a consolation to me, affirming the power of the ever present moment – being in the NOW MOMENT, a gift to be sought and cherished. It is a place to be energized and nourished with graces of wisdom, love and compassion.

Pope Francis’ visit ended January 27th which was Holocaust Memorial Day 2019. This day brings memories of my visits to Auschwitz and Dachau. Since Auschwitz was left the way it was on the day it was liberated, an overwhelming experience of grief arose as I experienced the atmosphere in which children, women and men suffered and died, 1.1 million of our sisters and brothers. A particular sad moment was seeing a carton of children’s shoes, a countless number, who died violently so young.

Dachau was the first concentration camp. Visiting Dachau is a contrast to Auschwitz for it is a memorial site created on the grounds of the former concentration camp. However, the grief comes as the experience of suffering and death made itself felt, 31,951 of our sisters and brothers died in Dachau.

As I reflect on compassion, love, mercy, risking, sacrificing one’s life, and so many other words that describe the loving concern given to Holocaust victims by countless number of people and groups, I mention one person in particular, 20 year old Josefa Mack. Josefa was later known as Sister Mary Imma, a School Sister of Notre Dame in Germany. As a Candidate she spent a year, May 1944 until American soldiers liberated the camp in April 1945, surreptitiously ministering to prisoners, including Catholic Priests.

It was a blessing for me to meet Sister Imma in about 1990 at our Motherhouse in Munich, Germany. Imma shared with me that her experiences made her anxious and she had prayed to forget what she had seen at Dachau. However, in 1985 she became aware that the memory of the Holocaust was being forgotten. This quiet, simple woman began the journey of speaking and raising consciousness about the Holocaust. In 1991, her memoir, Why I Love Azaleas was published. The title honors the prisoners at Dachau’s Plantation Store that gave her beautiful Azalea flowers for her parents.

A Survey by the Conference on “Jewish Material Claims Against Germany”, which involved 1350 American adults was released on the recent Holocaust Memorial Day. The Survey indicated 58% believed the Holocaust could happen again, with half believing it could happen in the United States. However, there is also belief that the Holocaust has happened again: think of Cambodia, Rwanda, and Bosnia. A heart-rending awareness! Will our compassion and love for all bring Peace, Joy and Unity to our Global Community?

Hope may be alive

Mysterious home

Darkness covers, a light beams

Hope may be alive.

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The hope I hope for, is for the power of love and compassion that
unites us as a Nation and a Global Community.

As I reflect on the present atmosphere of our nation and the suffering that it is bringing to more than 800,000 of our sisters and brothers who are unable to do their work, my sadness paralyzes me. As a grandchild of immigrants from Sweden, I experience pain as I hear the insults that are being heaped upon the migrants, considering the majority of them as criminals. Lastly, I am powerless for words to describe my feelings that our government leaders seem unable to move forward to bring us together and end the Government Shutdown. I know people are trying, so I am counting on whoever you are to pull off a miracle.

Finally, I close calling upon our Good and Gracious God
to strengthen us to embrace each other and all migrants
with the power of love and compassion.

Tear Gas Afflicting Our Sisters and Brothers Heartbreaking trauma

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Recently at the Tijuana, Mexico/ U.S. Border, chaos erupted as U.S. officers fired tear gas at migrants. There are reports indicating that rocks were thrown by migrants at the border agents before the tea gas was fired. It is hard to know where the truth rests – both groups were distressed and responded. The challenge is how could the interaction have been a compassionate one between wearied refugees fleeing in hopes of finding a life free of fear, violence and poverty, and members of the border patrol facing thousands of refugees.

First my heart wants to know: Why Tear Gas? Tear gas is a chemical agent banned in warfare per the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, which set forth agreements signed by nearly every nation in the world — including the United States. The shock is that while it’s illegal in war, it’s legal in domestic riot control. Why such a decision, for there is risk of serious permanent injury or death when it is used. This includes risks from being hit by tear gas cartridges, which include severe bruising, loss of eyesight, skull fracture, and even death. The question continues to plague me – Why Tear Gas?

Is there a compassionate approach that can resolve this situation and calm the refugees and border agents? Who holds the key to the mystery of presuming the good will of each group, enabling them to work together, or is it hopeless? Is it possible for significant members of both groups to come together to plan a peace process? I don’t have the answers, but know deep in my heart that love and compassion are the change agents available to us.

The Christmas celebration of the birth of Jesus on the horizon reminds me that Jesus was a refugee. In the Gospel of Matthew, we read the story of the “Flight into Egypt” in which, after the birth of Jesus and the visit from the Magi, an “angel of the Lord” comes to Joseph in a dream and warns him to leave Bethlehem for Egypt (Mt 2:12-15). Why? Because King Herod was planning to “seek out the child to destroy him.” Mary and Joseph leave, along with Jesus, and made their way into Egypt. The Holy Family flees their homeland for fear of persecution. Isn’t this the modern-day definition of a refugee?

Everywhere we look, we see overwhelming reminders of Christmas. If we look towards the US Borders, they remind us of thousands of refugees who will celebrate Christmas homeless in uncertainty about their lives. May the refugee, Jesus, inspire our nation to pour love and compassion on all refugees worldwide.

“Treat others and the planet as you would like to be treated.”
Visit: https://charterforcompassion.org/

On the 9th anniversary of the Charter for Compassion

compassion logoDuring the early days of November, I began some special time dedicated to reflecting about my relationship with compassion and wisdom, about the Charter for Compassion. My longing is to be ever mindful of compassion as a grace to myself and a gift to share with others.

Knowing that as I live in the waning years of life, my desire is to live compassion to its fullest. To offer love, compassion and wisdom to all without exception, means to be open to suffering. Without a doubt, compassion has its highs and lows: some moments my heart readily opens, and then there are moments when I have to nudge it — sometimes gently, sometimes intensely, sometimes my heart fails to open.

Suddenly on November 8, my heart and soul went into anguish as I heard of the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California — 12 of our sisters and brothers were killed, about 21 others were injured. This was the 307 mass shooting in 311 days during 2018. A previous mass shooting occurred on October 27 in Pittsburgh, killing 12 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Sorrow upon sorrow engulfs us.

What has happened to the Golden Rule? “Treat others and the planet as you would like to be treated.” Other questions come: who is really safe from violence? Thinking about our world: is anyone safe in our global community? Uncertainty seems to be the norm of our lives. How do we live together in these uncertain times? Can we be free enough to allow our hearts of compassion to freely flow without fear, to embrace ourselves and all living creatures near and far? Let’s help each other be free!

As I began this time of reflecting on my relationship with the Charter for Compassion, I was aware that its ninth anniversary was approaching: November 12 2009 – November 12, 2018. I wondered about how many people belong to the Charter? The best estimate given is over two million.

During November 2017 preparation for the tenth anniversary began with a campaign to get one million new affirmations to the Charter for Compassion by November 12, 2019, commemorating its tenth year. Since then, we have approximately 3310 new members. Perhaps you would like to join the Charter for Compassion. Visit: https://charterforcompassion.org/

With the approval of its Board of Directors, the Christine Center became a member of the Charter for Compassion on October 24, 2014. As we celebrate our fourth anniversary, we invite you to share your compassionate reflections by visiting Our Circle of Compassion on our website: http://www.christinecenter.org

We close with these words from Karen Armstrong who initiated the Charter for Compassion:

“In compassion, when we feel with the other,
we dethrone ourselves from the center of our world
and we put another person there.”

Ripples of Hope, Courage and Compassion

By Henrita Frost, SSND

Recently, I heard former first lady, Michelle Obama say “I am tired of daily chaos.”  She was in Miami giving a speech at a “WhenWeAllVote” Rally.  Michelle’s words resonated deeply with me.  A desire has been growing within me to transcend CHAOS’s hold on me, to free my soul and spirit.  The world doesn’t need me preoccupied with chaos, but to overcome it with love and compassion.  A new moment, a growing desire within me to move forward with ripples of hope, courage, compassion and so much more.  I wonder what it means and where it will take me.

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The Mission Awaits…

By Henrita Frost, SSND

The Mission Awaits
Perpetual Peacemakers
Walking Together

Presently we are in the Season of Creation, which began on September 1 with the World Day of Prayer for Creation, and extends through October 4 the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology and the creator of the Canticle of Creation.  The Theme is WALKING TOGETHER.  It invites us to journey together on a pilgrimage to better care for all of creation.  However, we all know the task of the Season of Creation is continuous.

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Hope, Hopes Compassion

By Henrita Frost, SSND

Hope, Hopes Compassion

The recent 73rd Anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, brought profound sadness as we remembered the hundreds of thousands of deaths of our Japanese sisters and brothers and the devastation of their common home.  The sadness becomes traumatic as we realize that it could possibly happen again in our lifetime.

Recently, we heard about a soul shaking interchange between two world leaders.  One world leader threatened the other with the “mother of all wars” and the second world leader responded: “Never ever threaten us again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.”

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Love and Compassion

By Henrita Frost, SSND

For several days I have been reflecting on writing once again about the challenge of a Revolution of Compassion.  Contemplating compassion consumes my thoughts: self- compassion and the call to companion others with compassion.  I asked myself:  What can I write that I haven’t written?  Then I began to hear one of my favorite songs within me, ”Goodbye, Mr. Chips”.

In the morning of my life I shall look to the sunrise. . .
And the blessing I shall ask is that God will grant me,
To be brave and strong and true,
And to fill the world with love my whole life through.

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Fire up Compassion

By Henrita Frost, SSND

Yes, fire up and create an unconditional compassion revolution! We wonder where to begin!  Start with self – transformation, growing a compassionate heart, one by one. It is a challenge that doesn’t go away, though we sometimes try to avoid it.

The call is to stand up before our chaotic world – stand, meet the chaos, feel the chaos, let it touch our hearts, break our hearts – feel the excruciating pain. Cry out in grief at the possible destruction of our planet, our home, and every creature.

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