“Compassion is an action word with no boundaries. It is never wasted.” —Prince
For years, I’ve had a front-row seat to see what Growing Compassion — the CtK core value we’re focusing on this month — looks like. My wife, Jenny, for more than the 20 years we’ve been married was often called upon to help her dad, Leslie, through transplants, surgeries, setbacks, and hard-fought progress. I saw how, for her, compassion translated to a calling to care and readily demanded action and sacrifice — a lesson she’d certainly learned from her dad and her mom, Trudy. As farmers, conservationists, and active members of Ebenezer Lutheran Church in northwest Minnesota, they’ve regularly demonstrated compassion through service and prayer. We lost Leslie last January, but I’ll be forever grateful for the sense of compassion he helped instill in Jenny.
Jenny and I, along with our son, Leo, have been members of Christ the King for a handful of years now. I regularly see Jenny’s compassion—particularly focused on kids—show up as she volunteers to help with church activities and events, like Vacation Bible School. And while I have helped her out here and there, it has been much more recently that I have found ways of actively participating on my own.
I’m honestly not entirely sure how it started — it may have been Deb asking for volunteers to pick up items from members of the congregation for the yearly garage sale, or perhaps Pastor Peter or Pastor John announcing a call for volunteers to sing with the choir for Christmas. All I know is that by the time I was helping to lay bricks to build the bread oven, I was hooked. I was also feeling the “growing” part of growing compassion, which, like most growing, could be awkward or painful at times. Participating on my own without Jenny’s outgoing spirit and service experience next to me, I felt like a new kid at school a bit at first. But thanks to the gracious and welcoming CtK community, I’ve found encouragement, friends, and purpose along the way.
When I accepted nomination for and joined the Council earlier this year, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into, but trusted those that asked me and showed up eager to learn and serve in new ways. I am particularly excited to learn about some of the ways we are talking about expressing “God’s calling to care for all creation” by considering commitments to projects like adding solar panels to our roof or speaking with local officials about how we can more ecologically handle runoff water from our land.
I have been impressed by the peek behind the scenes that I’ve been blessed to have, and not at all surprised to learn that participation in the Council means not just lending a voice, but actively demonstrating compassion and service in new ways.
It’s not hard to look at the world as it is and see that it could use more compassionate acts of caring, justice, service, and prayer. What’s surprising is how easy it can be to join in.