Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

written by: Megan McCool | Rockhurst University ’16

“I saw for the first time what form magis could take in my own life, through the form of compassion.”

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

“Compassion is entering the chaos.”  This is what Father Curran, president of Rockhurst University, shared with my group as we reflected on our experiences at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. We had just spent a week serving and learning from the Lakota Oglala tribe. I found it difficult to put my thoughts and feelings into words, but as I heard this unconventional definition of “compassion,” I was stunned. I had never before thought of compassion in that way, but that is the exact meaning of compassion. Compassion is allowing oneself to succumb to the uncertain and unexplainable fears, trials, and obstacles of others. We all have chaos in our lives, and this chaos does not discriminate. It does not matter where a person comes from or what he may look like, everyone is hounded by the uncertainty and disorder that muddles our lives.

One of Rockhurst’s core values is magis, or “more.” After hearing Father Curran’s words, I saw for the first time what form magis could take in my own life, through the form of compassion. Compassion is permitting oneself to take on the more of people’s struggles. By this, I mean that compassion is truly and completely making others’ plights and difficulties one’s own. Exhibiting true compassion is allowing oneself to embrace more of life’s tragedies, complications, and unknowns. It is standing in total solidarity with the people who need allies the most. 

As I reflect on my time spent with the Lakota people, a phrase that I learned sticks with me: “Mitakuye Oyasin” or “We are all related.” I hope to enter the chaos of other’s lives more often and more fully. My desire is to use these new chaotic, untidy experiences for the greater glory of God. 

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