Have we all been in the situation when a friend or loved one has shared something with us and we have had no idea what to say? We want to help them to feel better, stronger. We want to take their pain away. How in the world can we do that?
The experience of simply being with someone in their pain is the first, very important step to helping. We see this in the candlelight vigils after a shooting; we see it in the coming together, usually around food, when someone has died. We may say nothing wise or insightful and yet we are there and willing to be with others in their pain. We are willing to be vulnerable enough to connect with our own pain.
And this is already a lot.
Dr. Brene Brown has written a couple of books that I have found to be a great help in understanding how I can be conscious of my own reactions to what life brings. At the end of this I have included a very helpful cartoon illustration of what her research has revealed regarding sympathy and empathy. Having experienced both sympathy and empathy I can really relate to what she shares.
As we are with others in conversation we can become aware that when we are able to really listen to their words and be conscious of setting aside our own judgments and concerns there can flow into our conversation a higher element of compassion and of love. There flows into it the Spirit. The Spirit can work through the pain of our lives destinies. We hear in the Epistle at Easter time and through, what I experience, as the dramatic gesture of the priest, the sending out of our word—Spirit Wakened!
I experience an empathetic conversation to be our fulfilling this call.