#1000 Speak: The Compassion Connection

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Let’s connect!  Looking forward to connecting! I’d like to connect with you!
Such messages are all over social media, and usually there the idea of “connecting” conveys a professional networking vibe.  Connecting helps us get jobs, drives readers to our blogs.  Some of us are very intentional about this kind of connecting.  In today’s world, such connections are vital–putting yourself out there, getting seen.
Few of us put that kind of effort into making personal connections.  Yet most of us do make them as we blunder along through life.  Just a few years ago I was blessed by an experience that demonstrated to me the width and the depth of the connections my family and I had made in our various communities.
See, this happened:
fire 1
fire 2
Four years ago, when we were (blessedly) out of town, our house burned down and what we had left when the smoke had cleared and we had combed through the ashes fit neatly in a 5 x 5 storage room.
The strength and the complexity of the connections we had made throughout our lives were instantly evident.  We were in Baltimore attending a funeral when the fire broke out and my husband’s oldest childhood friend was the first in a long line of people whose generosity and kindness not only upheld our spirits but afforded us the material support we needed.
In times of tragedy, most people expect (and can count on) help from family, and of course when we got home they all pitched in–one sister took in our whole family, while the other one adopted our dog for the duration, and that was just the beginning.
What was wonderful to see, though, were the fruits borne out of many years of unintentionally building connections just by living our lives.  We received donations from our church, clothes and gift cards from both schools our kids attended and even from the school they used to attend, nightly meals from members of our son’s football team.  In many cases we had never previously met or talked to the many people who were showering us with money and gift cards and household goods and clothes for our children.  We were connected only by the communities–church and school–of which we were a part.
Connections from long ago still proved powerful, as we received gifts from old school friends, some of whom we had not seen in 20 years.  Virtual connections became real connections as friends made years ago online sent boxes of clothing.  And connections of connections chipped in as well–parishioners at my father’s church, readers of a blogging friend who hosted an online fundraiser, my sister’s dearest friends.
What I wrote in a thank you note at the time still holds true:   We’ve all heard that during our trials we learn who our friends are.  What we have learned is that we have many friends whom we never even knew about until this happened to us, and for that blessing we are grateful.   
Our connections showered us with compassion when this terrible thing happened to our family.  But not everyone has the connections we have.  I recently learned of an acquaintance who lost his home to fire a year or so ago.  He told me that only the Red Cross came to his family’s aid.  Whenever I hear of victims of house fires in need, I send a donation if I can.  Because I share that connection with them.
The real challenge is to show compassion–to feel compassion–for those with whom we have no obvious connection at all.  I remember as a child asking how exactly we are supposed to Love One Another like Jesus said.  How are we supposed to love people we don’t even know?  I do understand it now, but I can see that for many people it is all too easy to disavow those to whom they are not connected, to mark them as other and different and unworthy of compassion.
How easy to forget that we are all connected–that, as the Catholic Bishops of Appalachia wrote–we are all at home in the web of life.  That we are all brothers, children of one Father.
This post is part of the monthly #1000Speak linkup.  You can read the other posts here
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  1. radhika17 says:

    Beautiful post, Leslie! Truly said, the time of adversity acquaints us with the unknown connections we had.
    Read my post: http://radhika-feelingfree.blogspot.com/2015/05/1000speak-for-compassion-how-to-stay.html

  2. What an amazing story! One thing I often forget is how it is a gift to let others help me. It doesn’t just serve me, it serves them too. Beautiful post. 🙂

  3. Lovely reminder, Leslie. That must have been absolutely devastating but the silver lining of course being the compassion you received. True connection!

  4. Blogitudes says:

    Such and excellent post and tremendous reminder of how truly important connections are! Your tragic story beautifully shows that our treatment of others – when we treat them well throughout life – often comes back to bless us in ways we could have never imaged. I’m so glad so many came to your aid – that they returned the compassion you’d obviously showed them along the way of life … and I’m so very glad that you shared your thoughts about it with #1000Speak today! Thank you!

  5. So beautiful and so true! Times like that you really see the fruits of building meaningful relationships all your life. I am so glad you had such great support!

  6. Thank you, Leslie, for sharing this! While I hate the fact that you lost your home – how devastating – I’m sitting here thinking that had it not happened, you never would have been made aware of all the connections you’ve created throughout your life. You are indeed blessed.

  7. Agatha says:

    It’s such a great feeling when a community comes together and helps out without expecting anything in return. I think it’s even better when it comes from strangers! It’s acts like this that give meaning to life!

  8. My brother’s house burnt down this winter. He had the same beautiful reactions from family and friends. So many brought comfort and help in so many ways. Good to see people reach out like this.

  9. This is a sweet post, and I do love how people come together when times are tough. Our community is very good for helping people in need in our area.

  10. That is a major challenge. Indeed, it is during our most difficult moments that we discover who is our true friend. I am glad nothing happen to you.
    #FridayBlogBooster

  11. Oh Leslie I feel your pain on a very personal level. We had a kitchen fire that put us out of our home for a very long time. It was a very difficult time, and yes, we had friends and family that were there to help us get through. I’m glad that you have your sweet home back. 🙂

  12. Deepika says:

    Beautiful Post Leslie. You are really blessed with beautiful around you. In times of such adversity, they beauty of compassionate human nature shines out.

  13. ogilvieronda says:

    Going through a house fire in hard!! As a child we went through a house fire as well! The community came together to offer support in a great time of need! Beautiful post and sorry about your loss.

  14. sara says:

    Such a heartfelt story. Thank you for sharing. When My mom almost lost her house and all of the property burned to the ground, it was amazing to see the compassion of others lending a hand.

  15. 2patkath says:

    I read about your fire from the Liebster award and I wondered then that it would have been so terrible. It is so wonderful to hear you and your thankfulness for compassion to you and in turn you are giving compassion to others in need. Thanks Leslie,
    Kathleen,
    Remembering to leave from another page to help your statistics
    Fridays Blog Booster Party#7

  16. geeksdiet says:

    A fire must be a terrible experience. I’m glad there were people that helped.

  17. MissNicklin says:

    Oh my goodness, I knew you had a house fire but I had no idea it did that much damage! How tragic! I’m so glad that you received such a fantastic amount of support and it has made you stronger today.

  18. Eva says:

    It’s great that your connections came to your help when bad things happened to your family. I think it takes talent and hard work to build strong connections and not everyone knows how to do that.

  19. Very encouraging post Leslie. Even through a great loss you were blessed because of the connections you had and other lives you’ve touched.

  20. This is a great reminder of how important connections are. I am sorry that you had to go through such a devastating experience. Thank God for family and friends!

  21. I am so thankful for the Lord’s compassion and for others who show His compassion to me. I pray that I also will show compassion to others. I am so thankful that none of you were hurt and that others were supportive to you.

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