Receiving Compassion

Usually, when I sit down to write--fingertips hovering over white alphabet keys, computer screen softly glowing in my eyes--I have a carefully thought-out idea as to what my post will be. It has a beginning, a middle, a lesson or a funny anecdote, an ending.

Today is a little different in that I have so many thoughts bumping around in my head, but with so little structure and order. It is as though my heart is swelling within my chest, my friends, making it difficult to take deep breaths. My feelings of total and sincere gratitude are filling up all the achy cracks in my weary mama's body, and if I don't sit down and just write...I. Might. Burst.

I had intended to write a post about my path to becoming a more compassionate person. (Don't you dare laugh!)  I wanted to write about how having a special needs son has broadened my understanding of what it means to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, and then turn those feelings into a desire to help. (Compassion literally and powerfully means "to suffer together." Together.)

I wanted to write about how when we see ourselves as similar to others it increases our feelings of compassion. I wanted to write about how having compassion reduces our risk of heart disease, lowers our stress levels, and makes us feel good and happy. I wanted to write about how Camren has helped me to experience and see all these things, and to move forward in compassion for my fellow brothers and sisters.

But instead, I will say this...

We are the recipients of something very special. Rather than giving the compassion, we have been the recipients of it.

We haven't spoken much about it or shared it with many people. Not because we don't want to, but mostly because we can't. We cry. We get overwhelmed. We can't find the words. Even James, who doesn't often get teary, turns into pudding when we talk about how incredibly blessed we truly are. It's been an emotional ride.

Per their website, Vivint Gives Back was founded in 2008 when Vivint sent a team to help with hurricane disaster relief. Since that time, the organization has dedicated itself to helping children with intellectual disabilities. They work hard to ensure they make a meaningful impact on the lives of these extraordinary children. Millions of dollars have been raised for sensory rooms in schools and for humanitarian trips that provide relief around the world. And it's all about helping children. One million children have benefited from the generosity and compassion of the Vivint Gives Back program.

And now, my friends, my beautiful son will join the ranks of that astounding and impressive number of children who have been extended some help. We will become a part of the "Vivint Gives Back family"--a blessing that brings us to our knees in prayerful gratitude.

We have watched as a crew has taken our rocky and unfinished and overgrown-with-weeds backyard and has turned it into something lovely. Rocks have been hauled away. Dirt has been brought in. Sprinkler trenches have been dug. Cement sidewalks have been poured. An in-ground trampoline has been assembled. Landscapers have taken an ugly and unused space and have turned it into something so incredibly beautiful.

Tomorrow, a team of fourteen volunteers will fill all the corners of my yard. They will give of their time and of themselves in compassionate service to my family. They will plant trees, bushes, and flowers in our new flowerbeds. They will lay mulch. They will build a playground for Camren that will not only serve as a way to do occupational therapy with him at home, but will facilitate outdoor play and fun. It will be a place for him to run and explore and, simply, to be a little boy.

It will all be given to us. As a gift. A gift of compassion and love.

It was Lao Tzu (a super rad and super smart and super spiritual Chinese guy) who said, "Kindness in giving creates love." And love is what I feel today. Love. A tremendous amount of love--that pours into my "proverbial" cup to fill it to overflowing, that makes me thank God for all the earthly angels that tread life's path beside us. They dig holes for trees. They assemble monkey bars. There are good people everywhere. And blessedly, in my life.

Compassion literally means, "to suffer together." But maybe it's more than that. Maybe it's about growing together; enduring together. Maybe it's about supporting each other, loving each other. Because here is what I know: In the suffering, and in the need to help each other by alleviating some of it, and in all that growing and enduring and supporting and loving, we find community. We find friendship. We find strength.

We find family. 


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