He bore our sins, they told each other as they looked back on his earthly life, and carried our diseases. They said this because it seemed an apt description of how he interacted with the sick, sin-haunted and afflicted during his brief and vivid ministry.
As indicated in the previous blog post, such interactions cost. As any good healer or helper knows, in order to be really present, one must attune to the “vibe” of another’s sorrow, pain or distress, and thus resonate with the sufferer. The newly-discovered “mirror neurons” in our brain begin, quite literally, to reflect the other’s state of soul. We not only “bear with,” but sometimes actually bear some part of their dis-ease in our own hearts, minds and even bodies.
A Mysterious Exchange
If we do so, a strange alchemy can occur that is one of the central mysteries of human encounter: by sharing what ails them, the sufferer “offloads” it, as it were—”unburdens” themselves. The core of health in them has more breathing room, their feeling of isolation can be dispelled, and a sense of connection with the listener’s care or concern awakens the mother-love memory in their very cells and promotes healing. Their soul, their core self, has been “retrieved” or “ransomed” from burden of sin and guilt, sickness and isolation, or disturbance and lostness.
Such salvation only happens when some deep exchange has taken place: a ray of the healer’s love has been transmitted to the sufferer, and some of the sufferer’s burden has been transferred to the healer. Current psychological wisdom tells us we must be clear about our borders, avoid “taking on” others this way too much or too deeply. This may be good advice for helping professionals dealing with dozens of people each day. It’s true up to a point. But I’m not sure healing relationships have such clear-cut borders.
The way such exchanges happen naturally among us suggests to me that what Jesus' friends said about his "bearing our sins" arises from and is connected with just this human experience. He bore with the evil done to him by not responding with evil. And bearing our sins on the cross, whatever else that means, is a deeper form of what we can experience with each other.
He had done it his whole ministry, and now he enters tastes more deeply the depths of human sin and sadism—and somehow makes room for it, somehow connects this crampted, mean frenzy with the spaciousness of God in his own heart.He makes room for the world, sins and all; makes room for life with its all its beauty and horror; makes room for the Divine itself to bear all of this in the wellspring of Its own life-renewing heart.
Next post: Ordinary Brutality
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