During one of my favorite college courses, my professor asked the class, “Where do you end and another person begin?” It was a pastoral care course and she was genuinely asking for us to point out the specific spot where we draw the border between “me” and “you.”
It seems like a silly question that should have a pretty simple answer. I end…the end of me can be found…I mean, you just know, you know? This is me and this isn’t me…
Here are a few questions that may help us see this better. Have you ever been driving and just barely bumped into something and said “ow!”? Maybe it was pushing a grocery cart that got caught on the corner of the aisle, or a book that ran into a door knob. Did it really hurt you? Probably not, but we still say “ow” instinctively.
How about in your relationship with your best friend, where do you draw the line between what is yours in the relationship and what is theirs? That inside joke you share, is that part of you or part of them?
The weird thing about this question is that the more we try to make a clear line between “me” and “you,” the harder it becomes to find one. This is the point. And, I believe it is also the point that Scripture tries to make from beginning to end. We are connected.
At our deepest and truest level, none of us is truly separate from all of those around us. Instead of being islands in a sea, we are clusters in a giant web. We might be able to say it this way; we are all part of one body, or we are our brother’s/sister’s keeper.
Empathy is the key to discovering this reality and recognizing it as central to what it means to be human. Our ability to feel, comprehend, and share the experiences of others is one of the most humane things about us. Our empathy draws us to a more Christ-like position of action and belief because it reveals the interconnectedness of our lives.
My hope for you today is that you see the fibers that connect us, one to another, and act in love to honor the truth of who we (all) are.
1 Corinthians 12:25-26 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.