Bike riding and walking are currently great outlets for me. Utilising shared paths for both activities, makes me aware of both sides of the story! I am grateful for all the considerate people around, who move aside, greet or wave cheerfully, especially when riding. Many people are utilising our shared paths better, although others are just getting more irritated. Stories abound of locals supporting each other in considerate ways, balanced by others who have really had an overdose of their neighbours and lockdown issues. Our newsfeed makes us aware of people doing it tough all around the world, too. The reality is that we now live in a globalised way and we can’t simply turn the clock back to just living locally. Global warming and this pandemic clearly illustrate our need to cooperate together, on our shared path into the future.
Yet, how much can we realistically take, when we have very serious lockdown pressures in our mix? I found an unusual Biblical example in Mark 7: 24-30 , of a ‘foreign’ woman’s plea to Jesus, helpful to me. This woman came from outside of Jesus’ focal group, at a time he wasn’t welcoming visitors, with a request. You can almost hear the weary sigh. He is none-too-polite with her, delving to see if he’s going to expend his energy on this one. She responds to his off-putting opener with humility and great faith. Hence, Jesus relents and grants her wish. I learn that Jesus focused on his ‘main game’ (the local Jewish community), without putting blinkers on everything else, remaining warily open to compassionately extending his boundaries. He weighed the situations outside of his primary focus with more care, balancing them with his own needs for downtime.
This sits well with me. We have a certain capacity to handle the world’s pain, depending on what we are personally experiencing, and our inherent ability to cope. To limit our primary scope of compassionate influence, enables us to respond to these people and situations with relative ease. Our caring response to other areas, comes after stepping back to analyse our concern first, lest we become over-extended.
Responding compassionately has a great side benefit too. It tends to take our eyes off ourselves for a while and provide a by-product of joy in helping another. Let’s share our paths with consideration so our fellow travellers benefit too.
The articles here are currently written by Liam McKenna, Lane Cove Community Chaplain.