Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Spirituality: “Compassion” By Jean Vanier

In a letter he wrote to a Christian woman, Carl Jung said something very important. There was something very beautiful about what she believed, he said. When Christians saw somebody hungry and thirsty, they saw Christ. When they saw somebody naked in the street and clothed him, they saw Christ. When they visited somebody in prison or in a hospital, they saw Christ. When they welcomed a stranger, they welcomed Christ. But, he went on, what he did not understand was that they did not seem to see the poor wounded part inside themselves. Could they not see Jesus there? Why did they always have to see Jesus outside themselves?

How was it that they could not welcome the darkness that was in them so as to let the light come into the darkness and shine in it? Did they not see that inside them there was somebody hungry and thirsty, imprisoned in their own fears, a stranger who reacted in unexpected ways, an unforeseen source of anger or depression? Did they not see that there was somebody sick inside them, somebody hated, poor, broken and needing to be clothed? Did they not see that Christ was hidden in their own brokenness?

I am beginning to discover that we can only enter into compassion with those who are wounded if we enter into compassion for ourselves.

Source: Quoted in More Quips, Quotes, and Anecdotes for Preachers and Teachers, Anthony Castle, ed., pp. 476-477.