June 2020 Newsletter for Boundless Compassion Facilitators
We are caught in a profoundly historic moment in our country’s history. This coming Friday is Juneteenth, Freedom Day, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the USA. How ironic that at this very time we have become excruciatingly aware of how unfree our Black brothers and sisters continue to be. We have learned that they still groan under the yoke of police brutality, poverty, inequality in healthcare, housing and work, white supremacy fueled with bigotry and hatred, and other harmful causes. Last month I suggested via this newsletter that there was never a better time than now to enliven and deepen our compassion due to Covid-19. Recent events show that this need has undeniably expanded with the new awareness of racism. Let us do all we can to lessen the hostile attitudes and the brutal actions thrust upon people of color and on anyone who experiences intolerance of any kind.
We can easily feel helpless in wondering “what to do” in order to lessen racism. While there are no easy answers, I encourage you to do what compassion has always done: begin by changing our own heart and lifestyle in such a way that there is less suffering in the life of others. We know how to do this. Pray Metta. Examine one’s own heart. Be educated about underlying causes. Urge legislation. Reach out to those different from self. Live more simply. Love deeply. Stay hopeful. Tiny steps. Faithful steps. One step by one step.
You are contributing by being a compassionate presence, whether donating financially, sewing masks, getting to know neighbors, making phone calls, listening to others, joining in protests, writing to legislators, or educating oneself on issues about injustice.
Here are some of the BCF messages I received recently that reminded me how Boundless Compassion continues to thrive:
Jeanene McIntyre (Texas) “June 8 was the last day of the BC book study group I facilitated via Zoom at my church. Six of the twelve participants want to be part of a Circle of Compassion. I will be organizing that to begin this Summer. We will also begin another BC book study June 29. There are other long range plans for BC being discussed at my church.”
Joan Doherty (Pennsylvania) “On Pentecost Sunday I was feeling distressed with the riots and violence being reported on the news. I agree with the protests… to see George Floyd murdered so cruelly was horrifying. Here’s what I decided to do. I rang my neighbors’ doorbells and told them I felt distressed over the violence, how I am a Christian and this is Pentecost. We needed compassion and love. Would they like to join me at 9 pm when it is dark and social distance outside their homes with a lighted candle? it was beautiful! Neighbors introduced themselves to other neighbors. My 21 year old granddaughter and I stood outside with luminaries and candles and so many thanked me for suggesting this. It was very peaceful.”
Jan Evans (Ontario, Canada) “I have been meeting virtually 2x a month with our regular Circle. This week I felt the tug to put out two invitations for new circles – one to a community of marginalized folks who live with significant mental illness and poverty but do have access to virtual connections and the other to a group of women professionals who work with marginalized populations. The response to both was “thank you so much. I really need this.”
Maggie Beaudette (Northwest Territory, Canada) “I am working on a compassion retreat. It will probably not happen as scheduled for October but I will go ahead and plan it; I have been gathering my own compassion experiences so they can be used with the DVD talks. I have also learned how to host a Zoom meeting and am learning more computer skills.”
Mary Ann Anichini (Chicago) “I have been trying to embrace silence, to listen deeply to the movement of God in my life. I am giving more time to my prayer life, to show up for God every day, being open to surprises that might be the movement of God. I am also trying to be gentle with myself. I am quite sure that these days hold great meaning for each of us and all of us collectively. I have pulled out my compassion books and am studying them again. I am not sure where it will lead me but for right now it is good. God will teach me what I need to know and lead me where I need to go.”
Margaret -Peg- Choinski (Pennsylvania) Peg continues to see persons for spiritual direction via Zoom and phone calls. During Lent she and her husband made blankets for the homeless. Peg gave permission to share the following message from her brother in-law who works with mentally ill people living on the streets.
“Please pray for me to keep strong. Severely mentally ill homeless are dying all over this nation. Some on steam vents, all too many in jails and prisons. I no longer have anyone to share my sadness with. The mental health system is completely gone from the population I care for. Last night a Philadelphia police officer told me he held Laura’s hand as she died. She was wrapped in a handmade blanket that Peggy and Bill made. I can’t mention the officer’s name but her last words were not about missing me. She asked the police officer if she could take the blanket with her to meet Jesus “like Mister Bill said I could.” Please forgive me for saying this, but I just don’t know what it is like to die with no one to hold your hand.” ~ Bill
Kallen Glidden (Nebraska) After serious back surgery “which required six weeks of laying flat or walking, no twisting, bending or lifting and minimal sitting or standing,” Kallen chose to study and expand her BC insights as a Yoga retreat leader with the Twelve Step program by “books, podcasts, and webinars.”
Bobbi Bussan (Illinois) “I am facilitating an online 3 session retreat with about 10 in our BC Circle.” (Bobbi and Mickey Reed (North Carolina) are in communication regarding online formatting of BC retreats and other programs.)
Donna Fais (Nevada) “I am adjusting the plans for creating a Circle of Compassion from scheduled sessions at the local library to an individualized approach. One person is now reading Boundless Compassion materials and has expressed interest in meeting regularly and purposefully when we can comfortably meet again. I continue to plan and gather ideas for the future, but fill the present time with growing insights and applications. It is more about “being” than “doing” right now which is valuable to me.”
Other BCF are also “zooming” with their Circles and Study groups. Thank you to every one of you for your efforts to keep compassion alive and growing stronger.
The ZORA Canon This website lists The 100 greatest books ever written by African American women. Reading from this list is a great way to understand and expand an appreciation for this rich, cultural heritage.
Blessings: The Tsoknyi Nangchen Nuns of Tibet
I was deeply touched by this film. The simple, prayerful life of these women intensely connects with the world’s suffering. Their meditation and prayer focuses entirely on this intention. The film inspired me and reinvigorated my desire to be a compassionate presence, to send love forth each day to alleviate suffering.
Films for the Planet:
Environmental and social action films; Listening Deeply. A curated collection of 8 critically-acclaimed films, miniseries and study guides on systemic injustice. (If you scroll down on the homepage, Maya Angelou recites her poem “I Arise.”)
YouTube: Song, “Love Goes On,” by Bernadette Farrell.
An option for ritual for Week 6, of Boundless Compassion, or for any session that focuses on our compassionate action.
Othering and Belonging Institute
Excellent articles/interviews on this site related to justice issues/current events, especially racism.
Compassionate Integrity Training (CIT)
Two BCF have taken this training. Contact them if you want more info or feedback on their experience. Mary Catherine Burgess firstname.lastname@example.org and Kim Voyle email@example.com
Read an inspiring story by BCF Maggie Beaudette in the Catholic Saskatoon News. In this excellent piece of writing, Maggie describes her years of living and working with the Dene community, whose main language is Chipewyan.
Thank you dear BCF, for the hope my heart carries because of your compassionate presence.
Programs Related to Boundless Compassion