Compassioneering on my birthday

Birthday blahs.
• Birthday happiness.
• What turned it around?

I AWOKE THIS MORNING, AND IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY. So I lingered in bed, listening to National Public Radio.

As I was brushing my teeth, my step-daughter Kim called from the classroom. An enthusiastic chorus of Happy Birthday Popper came through my iPhone. About twenty 6-year olds remembered me from a class I once taught in there…..a memorable experience playing a didgeridoo for them!

Lots of birthday wishes came through Facebook, and that was pretty cool.

HOWEVER MY ARTHRITIC HIP WASN’T FEELING SO GOOD, and the promise of a third snowstorm in one week left me feeling down. Can also blame no sunshine to speak of this past week, and I am definitely a “Sundowner”.

To shake it off, I fastened up my knee brace and decided I would head out to play pickleball (poor-man’s tennis). When I started up the car, the legs didn’t feel too good, so I decided not to take the risk. I unstrapped my brace.

I piddled around with my new book called Fracman, but gave up and treated myself to breakfast at Hannah and Nates. Veggie omelet, and fruit instead of hashbrowns. Eat healthy and feel better, I was thinking. But I didn’t feel better.

Snowflakes from my top deck. (Click to enlarge, then back-arrow to return to blog).

Snowflakes from my top deck. (Click to enlarge, then back-arrow to return to blog).

DROVE TO THE GROCERY STORE and heard the stockmarket was down another 400 points. Blame China’s lousy economy, and the lousy price of a barrel of oil (at $33 the lowest in 12 years).

All the berries in the store were over-priced. Another disappointment as I thought their antioxidants might cheer me up.

I couldn’t tell which kind of Windex to buy, so I called my wise and trustworthy home cleaner Paula. She asked what I was doing in the store on my birthday, when I should be out playing. I thought about telling her of my attempt at pickleball, but it was too hard to explain. She clarified the Windex situation, and told me to do something special on my special day.

I promised her I would, after I found the Chicken Teriyaki frozen dinner put out by Marie Callender. My favorite. While I was searching, I saw a man in a wheel chair further down the aisle. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing. He was old and frail with long hair and a bushy gray beard. He was leaning out of his wheelchair, trying to use his foot to scrape a box of frozen food toward the chair. I looked closer. The box wouldn’t slide on the floor, and the man nearly fell out of his chair.

I WALKED QUICKLY UP TO THE MAN AND ASKED IF I COULD HELP. He said nothing. So I reached down to pick up the box, and as I gave it to him, his hands and arms shook. They shook a lot, and they didn’t stop shaking! Parkinsons? There were two other boxes on the floor. I picked them up also. He said he didn’t need them, and I could return them to the freezer. He thanked me, saying it was nice of me to come by to help, and drove away.

As I loaded my groceries into the car, my eyes misted up thinking about the gray man’s condition and what a struggle that must be. I cried all the way home. And a word popped into my mind: Compassioneering (stands for actively engineering compassion).

BUT HAPPINESS RETURNED, and strangely I am having a happy birthday after all. And I wonder if perhaps God closed the pickleball door so that I would be in the grocery store when the gray man dropped the boxes of frozen food…….so I could help him and he could help me.

Sunrise from my top deck. The sunshine will return soon! (Click to enlarge, then back-arrow to return to blog).

Sunrise from my top deck. The sunshine will return soon! (Click to enlarge, then back-arrow to return to blog).

The Gray Nomad
Probing the practice of Christian believers……

Do not store up for yourselves [material] treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers] will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body; so if your eye is clear [spiritually perceptive], your whole body will be full of light [benefiting from God’s precepts].
[Book of Matthew, chapter 6, Amplified Bible].

16 comments on “Compassioneering on my birthday”

  1. Gloria Moody says:

    “Compassioneering on my birthday”

    Brought a tear to my eye. I definitely believe God changed your plans, for that very reason. Nothing like serving others, to get our mind off ourselves.
    Glad to hear your birthday turned out to be a happy one.

    1. Ian Palmer says:

      It turned out to be very happy. Ended with a wonderful dinner with friends at the Claim Jumper……grilled shrimp and pork ribs! Thanks for your comment Gloria – always encouraging.

  2. Sheila Thompson says:

    Really good reminder to look at what we have and not what we don’t have, especially when compared to so many others, we have so much! Thanks Ian. You are a kind man and have a lot of wisdom. Happy day after your birthday!

    1. Ian Palmer says:

      Yes Sheila, you are right. As my brother says, to be born in the USA (or Australia) is like winning the lottery.

  3. Dale Bryant says:

    Yes, I remember having things happen to change my plans and then wondering if that was God or just a coincidence. Also, being able to help others in need is a great feeling. Happy that you recovered from the doldrums you were in earlier in the day.

    1. Ian Palmer says:

      Hi Dale, this seemed more than coincidence, since the gray man received help and I received help. I am happy to attribute this intersection to God…..give him the benefit of the doubt so to speak.

  4. Liz Mitchell says:

    Great thoughts Ian! I’m glad you had a happy birthday after all.
    We get the snow tomorrow. Service project with Asbury’s 2nd Saturday in the morning at the Dream Center.
    Blessings on you!

    1. Ian Palmer says:

      Hi Liz, we have a service project at my church once a month also. Its a great program that churches like ours do for the unfortunate and the needy in our cities.

  5. Sheryl Peak says:

    Ian, so glad to hear it’s your birthday! So true though, nothing like helping someone else and then it also turns our mood around so quickly. Miss seeing you out dancing. Hope your hip is feeling better soon. May this be one of your best years ever! Hugs!

    1. Ian Palmer says:

      Hi Sheryl, thanks for your best wishes. I think I heard you moved to Utah. Am still dancing from time to time… favorite recreation.

  6. mary Ann Pollock says:

    Ian this is a very touching story. It brought tears to my eyes and made me think of the times I have been so down with my pain. All I had to do was think of someone else much worse off than I am and say a prayer for them and my sadness would go away. I do believe God has a way of helping us when we help others. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ian Palmer says:

      Can’t add anything to your words Mary Ann which capture so well the essence of this principle. Thanks.

  7. Robyn Jane Hood says:

    HI Uncle Ian,

    Your words resonated with me very much. I am a big believer in compassion and that empathy and understanding of others creates happiness in yourself. I have never heard of the term compassioneering and it is an interesting way to word something I recognise. I can see how this is important especially if you are not naturally a compassionate person or are having a bad day just like you said. I am lucky that I am naturally a compassionate person but I still struggle greatly with this and need to practice every day. My best example of this is on the Tube in London where I live. It is so easy to see other people as a hinderance and annoyance getting in your way and stopping at the bottom of the escalators! I have to remember that they are people with their own issues and problems and I don’t know a thing about their life or what they are dealing with. I must say as a rule I wont achieve this but every now and again I realise and I practice compassioneering. It not only puts me in a better mood at the time it sets up my day for good instead of annoyance and stress. It is funny because the other people very rarely realise that you are annoyed so it only affects me.
    Thanks for your post it has reminded me to practice this. Love from London.

    1. Ian Palmer says:

      Wonderful example Robyn of how we can have a positive, helpful and compassionate attitude toward others, even in the tubes below London. Thank you for this, and love from ABQ.

  8. betsy says:

    I love your new word Ian– compassioneering! It means to me getting actively creative with our compassion. And being fully present in the moment in order to do so, which you were. Hooray for you!
    May God bless your new year and multiply your good work. I’ve got you beat by 4 days, my birthday was Jan. 4. Here’s to us Capricorns! I picture myself as the mountain goat on the steep ledges I’ve seen while hiking the Grand Canyon. May we be ever sure-footed thru Him whom carries us through everything– even getting old, sure beats the alternative!

    1. Ian Palmer says:

      Hi Betsy. I love the image of the mountain goat sure-footed on the ledges of life and secure in the Lord. I plan to hike down to Havasupai falls this October, something I’ve always wanted to do. Thanks for sharing.


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