“The Powers of Empathy”…

When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you. Susan Sarandon

Meditation: I recently taught spiritual care students about family systems. I shared how we can develop empathy for our ancestors. To do so, we need to imagine and take into account the cultural and historic events that they had to deal with. Those sometimes traumatic and stressful events shaped them and made them the people they became. As we realize the bigger story around our ancestors’ story, we realize that they are “not crazy”. Their behavior is a reaction to stress and trauma that made them cope and act in certain ways. As we develop more empathy for our family members, parents and grandparents, we also develop more empathy for ourselves. We realize that much of their emotions and coping mechanisms live on in us. One of the international students was moved to tears. She discovered for the first time that her parents had multiple levels of trauma to deal with. Her judgement and rejection of them gave way to new tenderness and compassion. Her tears were a healing balm soothing her long time resentment and transforming it for the first time into empathy. She felt something break open within her.

Prayer: God of history and of compassion, You know what our ancestors had to go through. And You know what we had to go through due to their ways of dealing and coping with their traumas in life. We pray for compassion and empathy for them and for ourselves. Heal us, free us from resentment and judgment. Increase our understanding for why they were the way they were. Help us to forgive them. Send us Your Spirit of compassion that heals our own wounds and our family relationships. Amen

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 1. Corinthians 1:3-4