Great Compassion

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After observing the pigeon for a little longer, I concluded she was behaving strangely because she was sick. Her tiny feet and legs were much farther apart than normal, and she seemed to be shivering. Although she kept an eye on me, she never moved.
Nearby, on the walkway that meandered through the Public Gardens in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, was another pigeon. That one looked healthy, so I assumed she was keeping watch over the sick pigeon, although she was several feet away from her. The healthy pigeon also kept a watchful eye on me but never moved.

As I took pictures of the flowers in that section of the garden, I kept watch on the pigeons, as they did me. The sick one began leaning more to her right, as if unable to continue standing upright. Meanwhile, the pigeon on the walkway never moved.
Realizing there was nothing I could do for the sick pigeon, I moved on to another flower bed to photograph there. All the while, the pigeon on the sidewalk remained in the same spot.
Before I was ready to leave the area, I decided to take a photo of the two birds to use in conjunction with an article, which was already forming in my head. But as I approached the pigeon on the path, she flew away. Since I assumed I had frightened her away, I regretted my decision to move in closer because I really wanted her to stay near the sick pigeon. Why? Anyone in distress needs someone to stay near them, to see them through the current crisis.
I believe our Creator places that need in both people and animals. For example, in a documentary I watched on TV, a young elephant was obviously ill and falling farther and farther behind as the herd walked over parched land in search of water. But rather than leave that one to die alone, the entire herd slowed down while the mother repeatedly encouraged her sick one to keep on walking.
When the baby fell to the ground, the herd waited for hours while the mother grieved, gently using her trunk to try to rouse her dead child. When, at last, the mother gave up, the herd moved on. That display of compassion touched my heart and remains a vivid memory.
We do need one another. That’s why the Bible says, “When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow” (Romans 12:15). Find a way to share their feelings, to “enter in” to whatever they’re feeling, even if we can’t change their situation.
Our Creator gave us the ability to feel emotions—our own, as well as those of others—and to respond to them, for He Himself is full of emotions. Psalm 103 mentions some of them: “The Lord is merciful and gracious; he is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love….His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth….The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. For He understands how weak we are; He knows we are only dust.”
As He is, so we should strive to be. And when we are like Him, people will take notice and will be touched by our example.
©2007 by Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill, www.jgaskill.com. Scriptures used are from The New Living Translation.
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