Compassionate Presence

Perhaps more than any other trait in a spiritual caregiver, the recipients of care yearn for the attention of an open-hearted person who can bear witness to their challenges. But what does it mean to bring that presence into an encounter with someone who may be up against adversity?

We explore this powerful realm in a remarkable dialogue with Frank Rogers, author of Practicing Compassion, recorded April 2018 at Harvard Divinity School, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (He presented the keynote talk there at our conference, “Cultivating Resilience in the Peaks and Valleys of Chaplaincy.”) Frank is professor of spiritual formation and narrative pedagogy at the Claremont School of Theology, near Los Angeles, where he co-directs the Center for Engaged Compassion, which prepares chaplains to serve in prisons and other venues.

Spiritual caregiving can offer deep personal rewards to practitioners, who are drawn to helping people undergoing distress in a wide range of settings. But by its nature, this kind of work can be emotionally and physically draining. So taking care of oneself also becomes an essential requirement of doing this work, as is discussed.

Also included is an excerpt of our Humankind documentary, previously recorded with chaplains he trained, as well as inmates incarcerated at Los Angeles County jails. That’s from our series, The Power of Nonviolence, which can be heard free at: https://www.humanmedia.org/product/nonviolence/