Compassion is universal

One week today we would have been flying to a sunny beach in Portugal for a week of R&R. It used to be a cheap week and this year was not.  But that is the by-the-by …  We had paid for our flights and transfers and committed to a no-cancellation option with the hotel.  We had been to this place before – and we have travel insurance.

Except yesterday we chose to cancel the holiday without any “insurance claim” reason.  The reason?  Our children and the lives.  Neither of us could have sat on beach and relaxed – both of us would have been here “mentally” – both wanting to help where any help was useful.

So I wrote an email:

Good morning …. We are cancelling our holiday (17 February – 24 February) to stay here at home (and for reasons which mean we cannot claim on the insurance).  Our (adult) children and their families are going through a tough time this eight weeks or so, and we are needed here to help look after the grandchildren, provide transport, and all that “family stuff”.  So if you able to refund (waive) the amount paid (to be paid), we would be very grateful.   And if not we understand that cancelling is our decision.  We would appreciate knowing one way or the other.  Kind regards –

Within two hours all but the airline had agreed to refund/waive in full – and the airline was sensitive enough to try and have us change our flights instead of cancelling without a refund.  None had to – all chose to.  We never expected that.  We didn’t think in this day and age that commercial organisations cared enough to do that.

We were both blown away!

“In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way – and some of them have come from a great distance.”  His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?”  He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”  They said, “Seven.”  Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd.  They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.  Now there were about four thousand people.” Mark 8:1-10

I don’t care if this was four thousand or five thousand.  I don’t care if this really happened or not.  I don’t care whether “inerrant and infallible” whether “fact or fiction”.  I don’t care for “transaction” – that “us followers” will be looked after – that Jesus will feed and water me if I follow Him – that is “prosperity teaching” and I don’t care for that either.

I see only compassion.

Compassion that is not exclusive to those who follow – not exclusive to those who are saved – not exclusive to those calling themselves Christians.  But universal to any and of all – as was shown to us yesterday – compassion without transaction – the allowing of compassion – the resulting outflow of kindness.

“I have compassion … “

Because yesterday was much more than £s refunded or not charged.  It was much more than someone’s bank balance or even “being looked after”.  It was not about  “transaction” – it was about change.

My change.

Yesterday we knew the consequences of OUR decisions, we decided not to “demand OUR rights” (that don’t exist), we decided not to “blackmail” others (with OUR future decisions).

We allowed.

And were both surprised at the response – both expecting “Sorry but you must …  Because we cannot/will not/are not allowed to … ”   We had no right to expect  – we had no right to be excused from our own decisions – we had no right to compassion.

And in any religious teaching that last sentence spins off into a huge theological conversation.  And misses the point.

“I have compassion … “  

Does not require any religious teaching – only compassion.

Because – as we found out yesterday – compassion IS Universal if we each allow (each other) – and that “allowing” IS Universal as well.  It is called Humanity.

And that doesn’t require any religion at all.