"Men always talk about the most important things to perfect strangers. In the perfect stranger we perceive man himself; the image of a God is not disguised by resemblances to an uncle or doubts of wisdom of a mustache." GK Chesterton
I invite you to share your stories here, to tell about moments of compassion that made a difference to you or others, whether from a fellow human being, an animal, or even an insight received from a moment in nature.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Why stranger compassion?

In my own experiences, and as a hospice volunteer, I learned the importance of the role of the stranger to a person undergoing illness, grief, and perhaps life's most important journey. There is something about the empathy of a stranger that allows a person to speak freely of their hopes and fears, failures and dreams, which they may feel unable to share with family members. The compassionate stranger offers a nonjudgmental presence, and, having no history with the patient, there is a freedom to share the deepest parts of one's self. I like the Benedictine description of how to listen: "Listen with the ear of your heart."

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