despite the cost

compassion threatens to
suffocate all who live to
extend it.

our hearts dissolve
directly proportionate to
our capacity to feel

a little of
what it’s like to
be you.

we could allow compassion
to bypass care, anguish,
love,

and instead steer this
healing gift
into

the chasm of cynicism,
establishing permanent residency
in anger.

it seems safer there–
less painful, the
immediacy of

explosive release
building a temporary
shelter.

but this hostile dwelling
is dark: cold without
solace,

serving only to further
the agenda of
isolation

from oneself or one’s
neighbor, offering
no space for community,

leaving us homeless,
dismembered, a mere shadow
of who we can be.

allow tears to flow,
hearts to feel,
words

to admit grief and
disillusionment
for only

then can the
dignity of compassion
be sustained,

rising as a shield against the
destructive forces of rage,

expanding to give birth to

warmth, welcome,
well-being, blossoming into
tangible embrace

for all humanity.

we shall offer love in place
of indifference, extend
presence

instead of withdrawal,
carry within our
bodies

hope for our neighbor,
our human family,
despite the cost.

***

© Julia Penner-Zook, 2018
Photo Credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com
Twitter: @J_Pennz
Instagram: @j_penner_zook

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