Changing hearts is the key to transformation

“Every time in history that men and women have been able to respond to the events of their world as an occasion to change their hearts, an inexhaustible source of generosity and new life has been opened, offering hope far beyond the limits of human prediction.”

—Henri Nouwen, Catholic

Theologian and social justice writer 

How do we change our hearts? A shared sacred tradition: Storytelling

All human beings, at our essence, wish to self-express and be validated, to connect and have meaning, to be included and to contribute. It is a soulful and innate yearning that, when fully realized, enables people to flourish in community.   

When given the opportunity to story tell and story listen, we open our hearts to the change, that offers hope, higher levels of consciousness, authenticity and wellbeing.  This allows us to grow and show compassion, for ourselves and for others. Compassion, the highest call for our time, must be ignited in each of us so we can heal and grow from trauma which has touched the core of our humanity.

Opening our hearts through the power of storytelling takes intention and some work to fully reap the benefits. Consider these four affirmations one can commit to every day—a little cross-fit for the soul:

Listening Intentionally – Self

• I will listen to myself and learn to identify and understand the root of my emotions, values, and core beliefs, and offer myself compassion as I listen to my own story.

Listening Intentionally – Others

• I will be intentional in actively listening during my interactions with others. I will be open to learning about the lived experiences of others, to grow in understanding, in empathy and appreciation for difference.


• I will work on noticing what happens around me in my personal and professional space, noting the diversity of others and how people are treated, to recognize complicit behaviors of my own steering a path for antiracism behavior, appreciating the environment and how I engage with natural resources.


• I will remember that I am doing my best, and if I come upon something in my past I wish I had done differently, I will acknowledge that if I could have done better I would have, and I will learn from my life experience and let it inform my future.

Cultivating Compassion

Compassion is a verb. Once we foster the awareness in ourselves, we become compelled to make a difference. As an active member of the compassion movement which has grown out of local interfaith grassroots efforts, I urge you to find ways to weave compassion into your life and that of your organizational values and cultures. Compassion will enable us to build unity. Allow for forgiveness. Have gratitude for democracy. Courage and commitment to address systemic racism, renew character and civil discourse as the path forward toward peace and social cohesion. 

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and put another there, and to honor the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

 We urgently need to make compassion a clear and dynamic force in our world ready for healing.  Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community. Charter for Compassion,

Thus, self-compassion, and compassion for others, are essential for the healing, the resilience, and the hope that will redefine us and who we are, how we show up when we show up in Claremont at work, as neighbors, as friends and family. Through this connection, we lift the spirit. Let’s start sharing our stories with one another!

May you and your family have a blessed holiday season filled with rich storytelling and tender moments of compassion.  L.B.

Submitted by Claremont resident Dr. Laura Burgis, President, The Human Values Center, Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church parishioner, Unity of Pomona Church supporter, Claremont Interfaith Council member. Laura can be reached at

Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Service Wednesday, November 25, 2020 at 7 p.m.

This service features spiritual leaders and musicians from a wide variety of our communities religious and spiritual traditions, Special guests and you. Interactive on Zoom and broadcast on Facebook Live and YouTube. See posts at for links or call (909) 542-8150 for information.



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