September 29, 2021
At Pendle Hill, we like lifting up communal living as a practical way to incarnate the Spirit in our daily actions and relationships. But make no mistake; as many of you know, communal living can be quite challenging! One spiritual practice that I have found essential in my personal journey with communal living is that of exercising compassion with self and with others.
I must admit that I have a long way to go in my personal practice of compassion. With both myself and others, I can get mired in negative feelings, holding on to situations and to a sense of how it should be, rather than surrendering to the creativity of Spirit.
Over the years I have found some practices that have supported me in creating space for compassion in my life. These are not a one-size-fits-all recipe; I share them, rather, as a personal revelation from my life-long effort to live with integrity in community, in the hopes of inspiring your own efforts in this direction.
Contemplation: I approach contemplation as a route to encountering the Divine and as a unique way to recognize God’s presence. This is also a path to wisdom and to action as exemplified by many mystics throughout history. In silent contemplation I have learned how to be attentive to the ‘small voice’ that calls for love, transformation, celebration, and companionship. It is in deeply attending to the holy experience of life itself which comes through contemplation that I have had the most remarkable experiences of acceptance, fellowship, and worship.
Learning: Creating space for learning is another important practice that supports me in my compassionate journey. Learning about myself and others as well as exploring my curiosity about life has been an active way of engaging in meaningful conversations and discoveries that expand my views and experience of the Spirit. Whether by marching to support immigrants or by reading a book in the quiet of my office, the search for learning has allowed me to find meaning and to expand my own eagerness to be faithful as a human being seeking to recognize “that of God” in all.
Service: A way to test and to re-invent how I am exercising compassion can come in serving others. For me, service is one way to stay accountable in my commitment to renewing myself while also sharing my skills and resources with others with humility and mutual support.
I have been frequently enriched by bringing these three basic practices into my experience of communal living. Living at Pendle Hill has been a great blessing in my own journey of undertaking these practices towards learning a deep and true compassion. I invite you to consider joining us if you seek the experience of contemplation, learning, and service that can be found in a living communally. We have many programs to promote all three mind-sets, and the residential Spring Term at Pendle Hill will be a special opportunity to explore what supports you in compassionate communal living.
Thank you for friendship with Pendle Hill as together we learn to enable a more compassionate world that welcomes all with love and justice. I look forward to walking with you in this journey.