Thursday, May 13, 2010

Something My Charries Taught Me

One night, I dreamt I stood outside on a snowy day, shivering with cold. Strangers stared at me with pity in their eyes, but their pity disgusted me. I did not want it.

On the way to school, I mused over the dream. In real life, I probably would respond to that stituation with pity, but my dream gave me a different perspective.

The word "pity" is a worn-down cousin of "piety, " but the original religious connotations have been rubbed away by hundreds of groveling toddlers and unprepared students begging for clemency.

That is not what comes to mind when I think of my characters. Kestrel and Skye are bold conquerers, escaping prison and exploring a new world. Abigail of Three Dark Roses endures severe trials--including the death of her entire family--, but even at her lowest point, I do not pity her. Pity is too weak a word.

Pity? Sympathy? Empathy? The distinction lies in our attitudes towards suffering people. Pity is looking down at something in disgust, like a half-crushed beetle underfoot. Sympathy is like a broken gem crushed in the mud, something precious ruined. But empathy comes from glimpsing the image of God in an individual crushed by life and feeling God’s love for him.

The first has no place in a Christian’s relationships. The second may tug our heartstrings half a dozen times daily. But the latter urges us to embrace the wounded and call down God’s mighty power in their lives.

In Lord of the Rings, Gandalf says, “The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.” But empathy can change the course of eternity.


  1. That's a wonderful lesson. It's something everyone should learn today. Perhaps it would solve some problems.

  2. Interesting...very interesting.

  3. LIKE!!!

    This gives me a whole new way to look at those words...

  4. Aye. I must agree with Celebrilomiel - you have given an entirely new meaning to these words, at least for me. And I will remember it. ^^

    You have not been studying Aristotle by any chance, have you?

  5. I am glad that my random thoughts make sense to some people. As for Aristotle, Gwendolyn... maybe in college. Our high school offers no advanced literature classes, but you have just inspired me to check the local library. *sighs* another book to add to my list. As well as Augustine.