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Gentle Virtues

Compassion and Patience

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04/01/2007 - Hard times come, whether or not we bring them on ourselves. Illnesses, injuries and losses are part of life. Can these times be purposeful? Yes, they can be.

When we suffer, we can acquire more compassion and more patience. When we resist being bitter and set our hearts on becoming better, these virtues can be ours in greater measure. Let's look at these virtues individually.

Compassion comes from the Latin word "compassio" which means "to suffer". When we suffer o rshare in someone else's suffering, compassion can be worked into us. We can become more tenderhearted; that is, we can be more "easily moved by the distresses, sufferings, wants and infirmities of others". While that requires more of us, we find that life takes on greater meaning.

Compassion moves us to action. We want to be a help without being in the way. We want to see others get through their hard times and we want to rejoice with them when good comes forth. As a result, our relationships are strengthened.

With compassion, we can share the comfort we have received when we have suffered. We have something to give.

It has now been a year since I miscarried my son, Paul, at 21 weeks. I still grieve. I still need daily comfort in my life. Thankfully that comfort is larger than my grief and it is large enough to share.

Comfort, from the Latin word "comfortis", translates as "strong". When comfort and compassion are working within us, our hearts are able to be uniquely tender and strong.

Now, let's look at patience. Patience, which comes from the Latin word "patior", also means "to suffer". Like compassion, patience can be worked into us while we suffer.

Another name for patience is "long suffering". This virtue stretches us. With patience, we have more of an ability to wait well. Our endurance is lengthened. We can wait longer for good to come.

As we all know, it is not fun being stretched. So, why let patience get worked into us? We are more content when we have more patience. We, too, are easier to be around.

With more compassion and more patience, we will feel more deeply. Yes, we will hurt more often. We will cry at times. Yet, we will love more deeply and in return be more deeply loved. With these two virtues, we will live and love more fully and there will be little to no room left for regrets.

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