Compassion

l faut avoir l’humilité d’écouter la voix des autres.

Good Monday Morning to this week 04/2018

We must have the humility to listen to the voices of others and rather than to compare the timbre and the melody with ours, we must hear it by what they say.

Il faut avoir l’humilité d’écouter la voix des autres et plutôt que d’en comparer le timbre et la mélodie avec la nôtre, il faut l’entendre par ce qu’elle dit.”

This week I looked into some of the findings of Arlie Hochschild, an American sociologist and academic. She has long focused on the human emotions which underlie moral beliefs, practices, and social life generally. She introduced the concept of an “Empathy Bridge” in a speech I heard.  It’s building a bridge to the pain of others when we practice mindfulness, one of the qualities that we are developing is empathy. As we open to the full range of experiences within ourselves, we become aware of what we perceive in each moment, no longer denying some feelings while clinging to others.

One example was made to the question of tolerance.
Being tolerant of someone’s intolerance is to meet them on the empathy bridge.

Remember the story in Luke when one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, and a woman with a sinful life came to Jesus with an alabaster jar of perfume, then wiping his feet and weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. With her hair, she wiped and kissed his feet and poured perfume on them.
Jesus response was so much like a spiritual, holistic, empathy bridge.

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”“Tell me, teacher,” he said: Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?

There are so many more passages throughout scripture:

– Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
– Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
– So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.
– Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
– If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Arlie Hochschild then gave practical examples of how to do that. For example, how do you address other people’s grievances? It’s when we turn our internal alarms off, set ourselves aside and make use and address our ability and capacity to empathize.

This process will start from the inside, then we look for  “guides” into these fields of “the other side”. When we are no longer anxious, humiliated and fearful we are able to walk that journey onto that empathy bridge. Spiritually it’s a walk we do as well. There is so much that we keep to,  are in our own “bubble” or as Paul would say, our old nature, then we leave our fear behind and walk out,  to already seeing a hand stretched far out, ready to meet us, our teacher Jesus has already crossed most the bridge to meet and guide us.

In my work with many cultures and people of many social classes I’ve learnt to move to the world of others and meet them there. But to meet people on a bridge, be it the empathy bridge of faith, has been an eye-opener for me this week. It takes a rather difficult and long process to leave that place of being in one bubble or being intolerant, then to journey to the bridge. On the bridge the encounter follows where we leave what is just “mine” to accepting the offer of the other, in letting the encounter and the next part of the journey become ours, rather than just “mine”.  The “bridge of grace” leads us to a walk and journey of faith along with our teacher and along with those that meet us or that we reach out to meet us on that bridge.

I wish you many encounters on the “bridges” you need to walk towards this week.

Philemon

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