When I was in high school there were opportunities to experience a life of poverty. So well intentioned students would get a paper box, and sleep in it downtown Chicago late fall. I never did this. But I have tried to put myself in situations and places to attempt to understand or come to grips with the reality many of our men, women and children have experienced. What I have learned is this is not helpful. Instead of placing ourselves in situations to attempt to experience, we ought to simply ask someone about their real life experience. We further create the divide when we allow our inaccurate experience to define or determine how the other feels in any given situation. This is true of any context. Whether it is addiction, loss of a child, divorce, homelessness etc. These sort of experiments encourage sympathy a short term emotional response that in many regards leave us in survivor mode on how to never find ourselves in that situation. Kinship requires empathy and empathy done in a healthy way allows you to hear and experience how something is for someone else while not losing yourself and how it personally affects you. Father, sympathy is our attempt at trying to control a situation, please keep us from entering in at that level. Would you give us the wisdom to know how to listen, be present and enter in while not losing ourselves in the process? Thank you for the opportunity to do life with people; vulnerable and broken men, women and children. May we leave space to learn as we seek to know and be known.
Amen - Ash