Reflections on compassion
I have been reading Walt Whitman’s description of his time tending for the civil war wounded and dying here is an extract
..Another thing became clear to me – while cash is not amiss to bring up the rear , tact and magnetic sympathy and unction are, and ever will be , sovereign still ..
The portable Walt Whitman Viking Press pg 453
Yesterday I caught up with Sebastian a friend of my son who was just back from a few months travelling around the States. He held my hand close to his chest as we talked the pulsating link adding warmth and conviction to our conversation –there was emotional and physical energy being exchanged and for once it was possible to feel this happening in a physical as well as spiritual sense
As in was reading the Whitman diaries –at the point of tears often – I looked up and saw my Pieta in red and black( modelled by Brett and Ron) with the cross of San Damiano that Lloyd had brought back for me and I realized that I too had a talent for compassion and that I could write about his convincingly because it is what I do and what I have been trained to do.
|Red and Black Pieta by Michael O'Hanlon now on exhibition|
I thought back on the journals that I must have kept while I was working as a locum social worker in an older persons mental health service and I realized what a rich wellspring they could provide for the characters in my novel. Eventually I hope that I can remember some of the characters I had helped in my earlier career people who taught me a lot even as I cared for them