Choosing Compassion

Last weekend I participated in a silent meditation retreat. I returned home with my heart wide open—wide open to joy and gratitude; wide open to grief and suffering. I wasn’t sure how to navigate daily life with such an open heart. It felt both strange and fully alive. Then I heard about the mass shooting in Orlando, and I wept. I wept for humanity.

Jack Kornfield wrote a compelling, wise response and his words resonate with me: “I am filled with tears and an ocean of compassion for so many who have been harmed. Sitting quietly, this tragedy strengthens my resolve to not let terror and fear take over my heart. As we move through this beautiful and troubled world, may we vow to be a beacon of peace, a fearless carrier of respect and lovingkindness for all life, a teller of truth, a voice for justice, a protector of those who are vulnerable or targeted. May the power of wisdom, integrity and compassion be our guide.”

We can be paralyzed by fear and sadness. We can be engulfed with anger and blame. Or we can live fearlessly with open, compassionate hearts. The latter is possible, though it requires engaged commitment. It’s a radical act to stay present, embodied, and aware during difficult times; to move from a place of love in response to an act of hate; to see our interconnection instead of seeing “other.” I stand with Jack Kornfield. May I act from wisdom and integrity. May I bring compassion to more moments. May I continue to live with an unguarded heart.