Compassion requires an attitude of unconditional caring, of being determined to find the holiness in each person. It means that I'm hearing and watching other people carefully, intently, intentionally. It means that I let go of expectations: I give a gift of myself without expecting a thank-you.
I often fall short of the ideal, and that's why self-explorations like these are so crucial to spiritual development. I claim progress, not perfection (and no, that doesn't give me a "get out of jail free" card when I goof up).
Compassionate love is seriously missing in today's discourse. The anonymity of social media has removed the "shame boundary" that keeps most people from getting drunk and dancing naked in the town fountain or from saying atrocious things that not too long ago would get one ostracized and shunned from civilized society.
Today is Primary Day in Connecticut, and as I head to the polling booth, my goals are to greet every person I meet on the way with a truly-meant smile and to offer up kindness instead of my instinct to think "what a jerk" when I read someone's Facebook or Twitter post. I know it sounds like the most minimal example of living "compassionate love," but for today, that's going to have to suffice. At the very least it will keep my soul calm, and that's never a bad thing.