Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Compassion for the Compassionate
I took this still photo last year on the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001. The plaid under the book is the skirt I wore on that day, as mentioned in an earlier post. No matter how many times I revisit this day, it continues to bring immense hurt and sorrow that I cannot put into words. It's as if no time has even passed.
Last week I attended a conference in town...Compassion for the Compassionate: Supporting Those Serving Others. It addressed the long-term emotional cost of being able to perform in high-demand, caregiving situations. There were 550 of us there...those of us who daily go places in our work that most of the world will never see.
The keynote speaker was Father Lyndon Harris, who was the Episcopal priest at St. Paul's Chapel, opposite of the East side of the World Trade Center, which became a hub of compassion for nearly 9 months to those who were in crisis in the aftermath of the terrorists attacks. Many of those served were the first responders who remained at Ground Zero for months as part of the recovery. No words can say it better than Lyndon in this 12-minute video I strongly urge you to take the time to view.
And as I reflected today about all of those directly impacted...I reached out to a firefighter who was in Tower One whom I am honored to know. I offered words of healing for which he was grateful. But those of us who give compassion in crisis, he, like many of us, carry a heavy burden. Though it does not seem rational, there is a haunting, excruciating pain of self-criticism that we could have done more. He told me, "the pain never goes away."
Life is a gift with multiple blessings...but today I honor those who go in the thick of the fight, lay their emotions elsewhere, to provide compassion to others, despite the high emotional cost to the deepest part of oneself.