A Personal Reflection on Cultivating a Culture of Compassion

The past 22 months of COVID have certainly been challenging, overwhelming, frightening, exhausting, heart-breaking, or other emotions may come to your mind. We each have our own story. We each have our way of understanding the challenges of COVID. 

To read the full text of Ron’s reflections go to the “Caring Community” Page in the Members Only area or continue reading below.


Firstly, I affirm my Eden Health Care Services’ colleagues & all healthcare providers for all the care & compassion that you are providing for the physical, mental & spiritual health needs of patients, residents & clients.Your presence & care reassures them that they are not alone on their healthcare journey.

As chaplain within the Eden Health Care Services (Eden Mental Health Centre) organization, I provide spiritual & emotional support to in-patients on their mental health journey, as well as supporting staff within a faith-based mental health context. I count it a privilege to walk with others on their spiritual journey.

Over the course of the past 25 years in hospital/institutional ministry, I have had the most profound experiences. The experiences that have touched me the most, are those connections with patients or staff who have a different faith & cultural perspective than my own. These experiences have challenged me,and they have helped me to grow in understanding of others & myself.

My ministry, as a chaplain, is about building bridges of understanding; about listening, hearing others’ stories & exploring where God is in the midst of their story. It is not about trying to convince patients, staff, or anyone, to believe what I believe. Most often, it is about hearing their hurt, their sense of abandonment, sometimes their experience of abandonment by God & their search for meaning. I am here to listen without judgement.

The past 22 months of COVID have certainly been challenging, overwhelming, frightening, exhausting, heart-breaking, or other emotions may come to your mind. We each have our own story. We each have our way of understanding the challenges of COVID.

Recently, I had the incredible privilege to hear a colleague’s story. My colleague shared of an experience of pain, sadness & hurt from many years ago. I was humbled by this person’s vulnerability in sharing their experience. When I went home, I thought about what was shared and I began to understand my colleague’s perspective. This colleague has a differing view of COVID, the restrictions & vaccine than my own view. Hearing their story has helped me to understand. Now I understand.

I may not agree with another person’s perspective on COVID, on faith/religion, or anything else, but I still can understand their perspective.The only way for me to understand their perspective is to listen and to be compassionate; to stop for a moment & listen.

Do I fail at this? Yes. Miserably, at times. But over and over, I/we are called to stop & listen; and care for one another. Our colleagues, our friends, our neighbors & our community need to stop & listen to one another. We each need to do our part in cultivating a culture of compassion.

So, I wonder;

•How do we (as individuals, as an organization, as a community, as a health region) move forward in a way that is life-giving; in a way that respects each person’s point of view?

•How do we share our point of view in ways that invite others to sharetheir views?

•How do we move forward in a way that listens & hears another person’s COVID perspective?

•How can each one of us cultivate compassion within our own context?

Respectfully submitted, Rev. Ron Falk, Certified Spiritual Care Practitioner (CASC/ACSS) Director of Spiritual Health, Eden Mental Health Centre (EHCS)

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