Last week I led the workshop for new Boundless Compassion facilitators who gathered for a
week of growing in compassion. I marveled at the desire, determination, and dedication of
people like themselves who are willing to tend to their own suffering and that of others
with kindness and hope. They renewed my belief that each person who lives in this way
can add to the strength of bringing about a world where genuine peace and love abide.

Something I read years ago convinces me of this possibility. The scientist Rupert Sheldrake
developed his theory about fields of energy that can be strengthened and influential the
more they are activated and practiced. These non-material realms of energy contain
information that forms a “collective memory upon which all organisms draw and to which
they contribute.” I recently came across a story in Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s World of
Wonders that exemplifies how Rupert’s theory works:

“There’s a spot over Lake Superior where migrating butterflies veer sharply. No one
understood why they made such a quick turn at that specific place until a geologist finally
made the connection: a mountain rose out of the water in that exact location thousands of
years ago. These butterflies and their offspring can still remember a mass they’ve never seen,
sound waves breaking just so, and fly out of the way. How did they pass on this knowledge of
the invisible? Does this message transmit through the song they sing to themselves on their
first wild nights, spinning inside a chrysalis? Or in the music kissed down their backs as they
crack themselves open to the morning sun? Does milkweed whisper instructions to them as it
scatters in the meadow?”

The butterflies carry the memory created by the field of energy residing in their ancestors
and pass it along to the next generation. In the same way, I believe that the more we
practice kindness and compassion, the stronger that energy of love becomes within us and
within those who follow after us. Judy Cannato describes this in her Field of Compassion:

“We live in a world of grace, and as we more consciously receive grace, each of us becomes a
Field of Compassion. Each one of us becomes open to love a little more completely, and then
love pours out of us and into the world. As we become free, others experience freedom in our
presence and can choose to be open to love, too. This is our life work, our great work, what the
Universe asks and what this moment in time demands. Our work requires all that we have
become and all that we are becoming. It requires a “yes” that at one moment may be whole-
hearted and the next tentative and unsure. But together our “yes” is empowering. Let us
imagine the grace, then, hold it in our hearts and manifest, one day at a time, a Field of

We are not butterflies with the memory of a former mountain still urging them to veer
around it. We are humans carrying the memory of love, the kind reflected and taught by
Jesus and all compassionate leaders before him and since then. The possibility for
reinforcing this quality of the human heart dwells within each of us. It flows forth with
every gesture of kindness toward those who suffer, and strengthens the field of compassion
as it does so.

Abundant peace,
Joyce Rupp