Saturday, February 11, 2012
In my Skin
I think I am definitely one of those people who learn best, by doing. And I suspect, even though we all have different "learning styles", that experience is always the best teacher. I don't think you ever know anything fully, until you experience it for yourself.
My new blogosphere buddy, Adrian, has been doing some kind of experiential program - where he and his wife are putting themselves through different experiences, in order to see things differently. Head over to life before the bucket for more info, if you're curious. The story of Therese of Liseux, has also really stayed with me. She was Catholic nun, who died of tuberculosis. While she was ill (and dying) she found herself unable to experience God, or to hang on to any kind of faith or certainty. This enabled her to understand and love atheists and those outside the faith, because she was "in their shoes". She finally knew what they were experiencing, and had a sense of how they felt.
So how does this sit with you?
Jesus was named "Emmanuel" "God with Us" before he was even born.
We are told that he is a "high priest who can identify fully with our weakness" - because he came and walked, not just in our shoes, but in our very skin.
Sounds a bit blasphemous to say that God ever needed to "learn" anything... maybe he didn't. Maybe it was only so we could see how deeply he identified with us, that he became human. I really don't know.
But one thing is clear to me. Jesus wasn't content to just use words. He wasn't content to bandy around ideas, or espouse a philosophy. He went the whole way. He experienced what it is like to be us. He walked in our skin.
And I think that is the kind of love we need to be showing to those around us, who we might see as "different"to ourselves. Love is never academic, or philosophical. It has skin on. And sometimes it requires getting inside someone else's skin, in order to really understand where they're at.
Have you ever had an experience that taught you something you thought you already knew? I love it when "life" rocks our paradigms. If you have, I'd love to hear about it!
Image: In my Skin, by Beth Halem: http://www.rareartist.org/gallery/artwork/7