Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your acts of compassion

Dear Heather:

You asked me whether you should help your demented mother or not and I replied why would you want to help and you started to cry and get upset and I decided to wait to listen to what you would say. You cried all the harder and I continued to wait and then you calmed down and said to me, "I'm pretty messed up aren't I?"

I said, "What do you mean?" And you said, "I don't know what I'm doing so I drink and you must be so disappointed with me."

I didn't know what to do so I asked the Holy Spirit to help me know what to say to you. I thought of the second UU principle which asks us to affirm and promote justice, equity, and compassion in our human relations and I wondered what this principle would have me do in this situation to help you.

The thought that came to me was that whatever I said or did should be to strengthen your sense of empowerment and well being and not weaken it. I think you are stronger than you give yourself credit for and that deep down you already know what the right thing to do is. You just have to get past the drama in you life, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and then follow your instincts.

I finally said, "I'm not disappointed in you. You got to do what you've got to do and if drinking is your way of dealing with your confusion, grief, anger, and fears then what I want to ask is 'How is that working for you'?"

I remember what you said to me. Do you remember? You said with gritted teeth and half laughing, "Shitty."

I laughed with you and asked, "What else could you do?" You started to share some other ideas you had.

Then I had to go, said goodbye, and have wondered ever since how things have been going for you. If you are interested and willing, drop me a line or give me a call because I'd like to know what happened next.

I wish you the best,



  1. There is a difference between empathy and sympathy. Sympathy has a way of weakening where empathy can be strengthening. Empathy is understanding how someone else may think and feel without thinking and feeling the same way yourself. Sympathy is feeling and thinking the same way as the other person.

  2. It says in A Course In Miracles that the meaning of love cannot be taught but we can remove the blocks to the awareness of love's presence. It seems that David helped Judy become aware of love's presence when she laughed and turned herself over the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the muse, the Spirit of Life, whatever.

    I love these letters because I always seem to learn something from them. Thank you.

  3. It is notable that the first source of the UU tradition is the direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder...... David's tuning in to what he calls the Holy Spirit may be his way of connecting with that transcending mystery......

  4. Check out Parker Palmer on "The Gift or Presence, The Perils of Advice." Click here

  5. When I was at church today somebody mentioned this site at the coffee hour. I have enjoyed it. Keep up the work.

  6. I wondered what made Heather cry when she is asked why she wants to help her mother who is suffering from dementia and I could identify her because I remember how overwhelmed I felt when I had to become my father's care giver when he could no longer live on his own because of his impaired functioning due to his Alzheimer's. I did not believe I was up to the task because of all the other things on my plate. Sometimes Life has a way of calling us to deal with situations we feel unprepared for and unwilling to undertake if we had a choice, but I had none. It was me or dad would be put in a home. I finally accepted that it is what it is and I would make the best of it somehow. I didn't turn to drink but I could have. Luckily, I found a good psychotherapist who helped me figure out ways of coping. Counseling really helped me a lot.


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