I wanted to participate in today’s 1000 Voices for Compassion, but couldn’t think of what to say. I Googled compassion quotes and found this by Rumi. “Give your weakness to one who helps.” The quote struck me like a lightning bolt, so I sat with it. What does it mean? Well, I went back to find its context. This is what I discovered.
Cry Out in Your Weakness
A dragon was pulling a bear into its terrible mouth.
A courageous man went and rescued the bear.
There are such helpers in the world, who rush to save
anyone who cries out. Like Mercy itself,
they run toward the screaming.
And they can’t be bought off.
If you were to ask one of those, “Why did you come
so quickly?” He or she would say, “Because I heard
Where lowland is,
that’s where water goes. All medicine wants
is pain to cure.
And don’t just ask for one mercy.
Let them flood in. Let the sky open under your feet.
Take the cotton out of your ears, the cotton
of consolations, so you can hear the sphere-music. . . .
Give your weakness
to One Who Helps.
Crying out loud and weeping are great resources.
A nursing mother, all she does
is wait to hear her child.
Just a little beginning-whimper,
and she’s there.
God created the child, that is, your wanting,
so that it might cry out, so that milk might come.
Cry out! Don’t be stolid and silent
with your pain. Lament! And let the milk
of Loving flow into you.
The hard rain and wind
are ways the cloud has
to take care of us.
Respond to every call
that excites your spirit.
Ignore those that make you fearful
and sad, that degrade you
back toward disease and death.
Whether you believe in one God or many gods or no god at all, this passage calls you to be refreshed when you’re tired of hearing the sad stories on the news or from the people around you. Do you rush to save anyone who cries out? Do you run toward the screaming?
Sometimes I want to put cotton in my ears and shut out all the voices of pain in my world. It becomes too much. But Rumi says it’s okay to cry out the pain and let it go. Let it flow out and let love flow in.
Once we do that, we’re allowed not to respond to every call for help we hear. “Respond to every call that excites your spirit.” This is quite a wakeup call to healers who want to make the whole world a better place. You don’t have to do it all.
“Ignore those that make you fearful and sad, that degrade you back toward disease and death.” Don’t ignore the pain of the world. Know that you can listen to your reaction and respond in love and vulnerability, not in obligation or fear. This is what being truly compassionate means.