Compassion and mercy is the heart of God

Published 8:34 pm Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My good friend Ian, who is a highly intelligent and humorous newspaper editor in Texas, shared a story with me recently about his experiences with nursing homes. 

He said, many years ago when he was still living in England, he was the chairman of his home town’s carnival association. This was a nonprofit committee that organized an annual festival, which included an elaborate parade that featured the annual carnival queen and her court of two princesses. These beautiful young women were the winners of a beauty pageant during a gala the previous fall and were now ready to go on tour. As a part of the carnival promotion, the committee would take these girls to surrounding cities and have them participate in other parades and public appearances, thereby optimizing its fund-raising potential for local charities and other worthy causes.

Ian tells how it was easy to enthuse the royal court to attend these festivities, as they would quickly make friends with local celebrities, along with the opportunity to meet swarms of potential suitors along the way. On each official outing, the carnival queen wore a white wedding-style ballgown and crystal crown and the two princesses wore colored ball gowns and crystal tiaras. To all the children they met, they were, indeed, touched with the magic of fairytale royalty. However, with all of the attention and star status, there was one stop on the tour that was not considered glamorous. They were required to visit a facility for physically and mentally disabled patients. My friend found himself trying to persuade these “rock stars” to devote their morning on Christmas Day to spending time with individuals whose severe handicaps would break your heart. Every Christmas holiday it was a part of his duty to collect the girls and chauffeur them to the hospital, and with absolutely no hint of his inner apprehension, convince them that what they were about to do, would forever change their perspective of life.

Each year, a new group of celebrities would enter the hospital with trepidation, obviously intent on getting the ordeal over and done with. However, surprisingly, these young ladies would stay at individual besides far longer than anyone would have expected, hugging and chatting with children who could hardly speak. The mask of pride and pomp quickly melted into a sobering realization that many innocent individuals live each day with misery and suffering. As they embraced the elderly, you could sense the power of compassion that was creating waves of gratitude and humility in everyone present. Members of the clergy are more likely to be seen in prisons and health care facilities, but we do not need to be an ordained minister to brighten someone’s day. It is precious to develop friendships with these individuals, and I know there are many lonely people that would simply love to have someone visit and talk with them.

Dr. Holland is a minister, community chaplain and the author of, “A Lifestyle of Worship.” Request a free copy of his new CD, “Keeper of my soul” at billyhollandministries.com