Leah Farmer

Personal perspectives on faith, literature, and life.

NightStrike: A Lesson in Listening

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

When I read this phrase I immediately think of the transforming relationships that are built between volunteers and guests under Burnside Bridge on Thursday nights in downtown Portland at Night Strike. Nothing closes the distance between you and a girl living on the street more than when she tells you a story that sounds like your own. Equality of spirit happens when shame, fear, and violation pour out of the mouth of a woman and you can honestly look her in the face and say “I’m so sorry that happened to you. It isn’t fair. That happened to me too and some days the remembering is overwhelming.” Under the bridge there are people who spend their days wishing that someone would just look them in the eye…see them. People needing to be seen can be the guests who are living on the edge of society or the volunteer who holds a prestigious spot in a major corporation or is the senior class president at her high school.

Not certain you can feel like an equal with a homeless person, a single mother, an abuse victim, a drug dealer, and addict? Listen to their story. Look into their eyes. Ask them about the people they love or have loved. As them what their dreams where as a child. Ask them what thoughts or ideas bring them joy or comfort or peace.

Listen…You’ll hear something in their story that rings true with your own.

Listen…And the God in them will commune with the God in you.

Listen…Because compassion is born of that acknowledgement of Spirit to Spirit.

**Hey, want to volunteer or donate to this amazing organization. Go to the site that follows and give…every penny you spend will be used well. I promise! http://bridgetowninc.org/environments/nightstrike/ **

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