Of all the characters on the Star Trek television series I most relate to Counselor Troi, the Empath. She was a 'feeler' sometimes to the point of incapacitation.
Anyone who knows me knows I shy away from violence in the realms of both reality and fantasy. I just can't take it. And sobbing tear-jerk stories leave me wrung out. I'm a 'feeler.'
For me emotions are not stuffed but flow freely, rising from the deep places, hovering, saturating, speaking both rationally and irrationally. Not the gauge I depend on for truth but often the measure of revulsion, compassion, even understanding.
When my loved ones have pain in heart or body, I feel pain, too.
When the Twin Towers fell I struggled to breathe, couldn't function for days, reeled.
When the first men, women, and children began dying in the Iraq war - on both sides - so began my empathic mourning as a mom, wife, sister, friend.
When Bill Clinton squinted his eyes and pointed his long crooked finger at me through T.V. glass I cringed in embarrassment for my country.
When I study the past fifty years of Tibetan history, including current events, I feel defeated sadness, loss.
When a United States athlete receives an Olympic gold medal to a lifting flag and blaring anthem I cry in happiness for them, share their pride somehow.
When a baby is born to someone I love joy swells.
But empathize though I do it's not possible for me to fully grasp another's pain or joy for I am removed from it by degrees, it's not personally mine. I can only imagine or relate through similar recalled experiences.
There is personal empathizing, however, when I think about the events Jesus endured 2,000 years ago. His discomfort from harsh treatment at the hands of his accusers on the walk from garden to town frustrate and sadden me. The sickeningly unimaginable pain of whippings and beatings he later endured tear at my heart and mind, yet I don't know exactly what he physically felt. I've never undergone such treatment. The long stagger to the Place of the Skull is an event I resist reviewing; emotion screams at me, begging that I think about something else, anything else. Then torturous crucifixion nails puncturing flesh, huge thorns tearing delicate temples and brow, suffocation, thirst, muscle cramps, racking pain. These horrors I can only imagine or relate to on an infinitesimal scale. Jesus' pain and suffering leap far beyond my ability to grasp.
But the shame, oh, that is mine. No empathy necessary, this is truly felt. This is all me - and you. Here we are the cause. The pain of knowing this is sharp, unavoidable, and extremely unpleasant. I profoundly squirm over and over at each remembrance. Grief. Remorse. Humiliation. Disintegration.
Then like a salve the truth of the Resurrection comes to mind, not hiding Jesus' suffering but offering a reason, not erasing my innate despair but mercifully changing the outcome of it. Forgiveness. Hope.
Easter confronts. Easter wrenches. Easter relieves.
Easter requires examination.
In all of life we'll find no greater love than this.