A friend sent me this story a few days ago and today I open it. It’s “In the Belly of the Whale” by Patricia Hampl, perfect for this day.
I offer a few lessons from it to entice you in though they may seem stark without the story which is the point of stories. We’re struck inside, touched and entertained as we’re changed.
The lesson begins to come home: at the heart of the refusal of mercy is not cruelty – but fear.
Cruelty belongs, then, to fear, and compassion belongs to justice. It is necessary to learn these relationships, to trace the integuments that bind us to our actions.
But that’s the point: compassion is not a personal form of enlightened social welfare for everybody else. It is reality, it is how things fit together in the universe. To lack compassion is not merely to lack a human quality – it is to not quite exist, to be missing an essential working part of reality.
Compassion is the acknowledgment of connection, the refusal to see the world as divided into distinct units which can do without each other. It is, literally, a “suffering together with” (com/with + pati/suffer). It is primal union.
And so Dr. King taught, and so today, we remember and stretch to embody his teachings even more as they expand with his death. You can read the story here, as you salivate to digest.