I found myself sitting on the floor the other day. The Alzheimer’s patient, who was sitting in her wheelchair, had covered her head in her cardigan. So I sat on the floor and she uncovered part of her head so I could see her face. We held hands and she squeezed mine. And then I talked and prayed with/for her; her son had told me she likes to pray and still attends church with him. She continued squeezing.
Sometimes that’s enough to know you have made a difference in someone’s day. It wasn’t the words as much as the willingness to sit where she could see me without giving up what was making her feel secure. I wouldn’t have made that connection unless I had been willing to sit at eye level.
Maybe there’s a metaphor here: enter yourself into someone else’s perspective, don’t wait for them to come to yours.
Isn’t that what empathy is all about? Feeling with? I wonder what difference that would make to public discourse these days if we were all willing to sit with or beside someone in their fear or anger and try to connect with how they are feeling, how they are making sense of things?