Symponia – the Compassion Project

Symponia – the Compassion Project launches today. It is my passion project. It’s something that’s been brewing here for many years now but recent events inspired me to get it done. So here I go…

Several months ago, I stumbled across a phrase in the back of a cookbook. One of the chefs called herself “a compassionate lifestyle advocate.”

“Hmm,” I thought, “What is a compassionate lifestyle advocate?”

Google failed me. Nothing turned up. I turned the phrase over and over again in my mind. What would a compassionate lifestyle look like? What would an advocate for that lifestyle do?

As I contemplated the phrase and embarked on my latest journey (chronicled in the blog Planet Plant Foods) I found myself recognizing aspects of my lifestyle that I considered a compassionate lifestyle. Soon, I realized that the phrase “compassionate lifestyle advocate” described me perfectly, too. I adopted the moniker and began considering the ways in which I too could encourage others to embrace this way of living.

The world desperately needs compassion. Not only compassion for the planet, with its myriad challenges and struggles. But compassion for others: the unborn, the elderly, the sick, the handicapped, the challenged. We need, more than anything, compassion for ourselves, and our faults and failings.

It doesn’t mean we don’t sin and seek forgiveness. It certainly doesn’t mean we accept blindly where we are today, each of us a mess of bad habits and brokenness. But it does mean that when we fall (and we fall, daily), we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, ask for forgiveness, and move on.

I realized as I wrote this that my concept of gentleness comes from the great doctor of the church and my spiritual guide, St. Francis de Sales.

“Know that patience is the one virtue which gives the the greatest assurance of our reaching perfection, and, while we must have patience with others, we must also have it with ourselves. Those who aspire to the pure love of God need to be more patient with themselves than with others.” (Letter to Mademoiselle de Soulfour, July 22, 1603)

And this:

“We die little by little, so our imperfections die with us. Dear imperfections, they force us to acknowledge our misery, give us practice in humility, selflessness, patience, and watchfulness; yet, notwithstanding, God looks at the preparation of our heart and sees that it is perfect.” (same letter)

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I think that a lack of compassion is at the root of so much evil today. If we but had a little compassion towards others, we would think twice before hurting them. If we had compassion towards ourselves, we would smile more and worry less about the little things.

Much of Symponia – the Compassion Project is build around Matthew Chapter 5 and around the writings of St. Francis de Sales. Articles for the project will be under the Symponia – the Compassion Project tab on the menu and on Medium. I hope that you will read on, and become part of the movement to bring kindness to the world again.