Recently, I came across the above words by Etty Hillesum. Etty was a Jewish woman who lived in Nazi-occupied Holland and who later died in Auschwitz. During her life she practiced a compassion that calls us today. Her compassion speaks to me in her words: “We should be willing to act as a balm for all wounds.”
Etty Hillesum’s words took on particular meaning for me as I reflected upon Step Two of the Twelve Steps to a Compassionate life: Look at Your Own World. We are encouraged to discover what we must do to create a better world and to meet the challenges of our times. During Step 2, the suggestion is made to take ourselves mentally to the summit of a high mountain, where we can stand back and see things from a different perspective.
As I stand on the mountain three things are important to me: 1. holding a Globe in my hands representing my presence in both my Local Community and a Global Community, 2. holding a balm in my heart for myself and the wounds of our world, and 3. recognizing the presence of the Divine who inspires my heart to be compassionate.
My learnings on the mountain continue to inspire me. Ever present compassion is our companion as we toil with our strengths and weaknesses, as we work for change in so many areas of our lives, our Nation, and our World. The one category that continues to nudge at me is Culture. I lived and traveled internationally for eight years and I remember how long it took me to stop and realize everyone was not like me, but of a different culture. Others helped me to change. So let’s help each other to change and act as a balm for the wounds in our Local Community and Global Community.