Compassion is no Match for Convenience

The phone rings and I hesitate as caller ID flashes into view. I don’t have to press ‘answer’. I already know the question.

My eyes wander back to the screen where the half-written email waits patiently for the return of my attention. 

Reaching for the phone now. “This isn’t a convenient time,” I thought. “Say, no. You have to say no.”

There’s a laundry hamper brimming with activewear – after all, we are busy people. And our fridge is stocked well for a feast, as long as it’s made completely of condiments. I desperately need to go shopping. The dentist appointment tomorrow and the hair appointment the day after that. 

The phone has now rung twice.

Oh shoot! I promised to babysit all day Thursday. And when will I find time to write get-well cards? My thoughts like springs, bouncing from cell to cell, gathering reason.

The phone has now rung three times.

The freelance editing job I promised to complete lays on my desk, thesaurus and grammar guide wide open, purple ink pen at the ready. This job I prayed for, and now time escapes as though the Earth has cracked and minutes are slipping through.

The request just inside the ringing phone is not convenient. But I answer.

The voice on the other side is weak and tearful. “I’m having a hard day,” she says. “Would you be able to take me to lunch soon?” I think, but then do not say, what I’m thinking. I already know the right answer.

“Could I take you to lunch tomorrow? I can pick you up right after my dentist appointment.” 

Doing the next right thing colors outside the lines of convenience.  

Retirement has turned the virtues of a non-scheduled life into a teeter-totter of chaotic commitments. The things that are convenient rarely align with those of highest value.  

Instead of clambering to meet a deadline, I took my friend to lunch, and afterward we took a long, quiet drive over miles of country roads, revisiting the area where she once lived, married, and raised her children for over 90 years.

Love isn’t a matter of convenience, it’s a matter of compassion.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

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