Compassion and courage to see differently

One word can make such a difference.

‘Sawubona’ – I see you – encapsulates a profound sense of being seen and heard.

Yet you can’t do this without compassion and empathy.

Because it means being present, not just glancing in passing, seeing beneath the surface and recognising both sameness and otherness.

And this takes time and humility.

Being open to seeing differently. To have our preconceptions shaken and let them fall away.

And that can feel vulnerable and exposing…

But what is the alternative?

If we close down how we see others, we also shut ourselves off from who we are.

And conversely, if we struggle to see ourselves, we have blinders on for others, too.

So we need courage.

My bedtime reading has included John O’Donohue’s blessing For Courage for a while now. It’s not a one-off read; each time I’ve returned, it’s felt like peeling the proverbial onion skin.


When the light around you lessens
And your thoughts darken until
Your body feels fear turn
Cold as a stone inside,

When you find yourself bereft
Of any belief in yourself
And all you unknowingly
Leaned on has fallen,

When one voice commands
Your whole heart
And it is raven dark,

Steady yourself and see
That it is your own thinking
That darkens your world,

Search and you will find
A diamond-thought of light,

Know that you are not alone
And that this darkness has purpose;
Gradually it will school your eyes
To find the one gift your life requires
Hidden within this night-corner.


Invoke the learning
Of every suffering
You have suffered.

Close your eyes.
Gather all the kindling
About your heart
To create one spark.
That is all you need
To nourish the flame
That will cleanse the dark
Of its weight of festered fear.

A new confidence will come alive
To urge you towards higher ground
Where your imagination
Will learn to engage difficulty
As its most rewarding threshold!

+ John O’Donohue, from ‘Benedictus: A Book of Blessings’, Bantam Press, 2007

Pause. See differently. Re-story 🌿

This week

Exploring seeing differently.

A few good words

From the writer Anne Lamott. Her 2017 TED talk – 12 truths I learned from life and writing – is a delight that gently and humorously opens me up whenever I see it.