As Mother’s Day approaches, I am reminded of the Mega-Mother: Mother Theresa. She wrote an essay on compassion. She called it “the purest form of love”. I completely agree. Compassion is very dear, greatly valued and becoming so increasingly rare; people would pay high hourly rates to mental health professionals just to get some.
What exactly is compassion and why is it so important for our well-being? The etymology of the word compassion comes from the Latin and means “to suffer with.” Mothers can have the uncanny ability to feel what their children are feeling. They have the gift of being able to fully feel the pain and suffering of a child; sometimes for anyone’s child and they feel with them in the present moment as the suffering occurs.
Suffering with another in the present moment is what distinguishes compassion from sympathy, empathy, pity or other kindnesses. Suffering together in the present moment is face-to-face; person-to-person; not through Facebook, emails or blogs. It is extremely powerful in its ability to heal; sometimes miraculously.
Mother Theresa considered compassion to serve as divine respect for another. She embodied this in her vocation to be of service to humans in need. As we celebrate Mother’s Day, let’s be inspired by her to break away from our “electronic” attachments and have some real-time compassion for any “child” who is struggling. Engaging in compassion has the power to renew our ability to be tender-hearted and present for another. Who couldn’t use some of that?
You posted a question on LinkedIn asking readers what they think about on Mothers Day… As an adult adoptee, I have found most psychotherapists (psychologists, counselors, social workers) to be particularly insensitive to the issues and needs around living with adoption. On Mother’s Day, my awareness of this comes into sharp focus. Who can I talk to about it, especially on this day? Our society has little compassion for the person who was “saved” by the institution of adoption, and considers them to be ungrateful when they are not completely satisfied with “what is” and silenced into acceptance without question. And as I have learned, not all mothers have that uncanny ability to feel what their child is feeling… be they biological or adoptive mothers.
Thank you very much for your perspective and insight on one very meaningful way we might deepen our compassion for a child. While I commented on an ideal maternal trait, unfortunately not all mothers possess it, neither do they aspire to develop it. I acknowledge and respect that for many, Mother’s Day triggers the experience of loss and pain. Those of us who suffered as children face the challenge of giving what we never got.