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Sitting with Compassion

“Who we are in the present includes who we were in the past.”

- Fred Rogers, a.k.a. Mr. Rogers -

I have heard from several friends this month about how the sharing of old stories can lessen their weight upon our bodies and psyches, and with awareness and staying close to all the feelings that arise, be transformed into a deep and powerful compassion for others and for ourselves.

Maybe it was because I watched the new movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” last night . . . for whatever reason, I woke up in the hour just before dawn, the time of day called la madraguda in the Spanish language, knowing that the poem I wrote several years ago wanted to be shared again.

Communion is a reminder that we all carry the weight of our past, and that compassion lies within that weight. Though the transformation into who we truly are can be a struggle, ultimately it is a calming practice. And like breathing, necessary for living fully, and well.


There is a bowl.

Stories gather within its unsounded depths

even as the bowl sits in the curve of your palm

tales once pebble-sized now grown into stones,

the sly ones that enter without your knowing.

There is a bowl

filled with the water of compassion.

This is the same bowl.

It brims over crying

when the stories jostle against one another.

In its brimming the bowl asks only this —

Make room.

Make space between the words where

consequence and compassion may sit in communion.

Everything rests on the holding of the bowl.

- Nancy G. Shapiro, from The Book of Calm


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