The Second Half of Life.
We cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.C. G. Jung
When I was younger, I had life all figured out. I grew up in Mormonism. It was true. All of the answers had been provided to me. There was very little need to listen or give priority to anything anybody had to say outside of Mormonism. Especially if it contradicted or seemed to contradict what had been shared by apostles and prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I had been taught to be kind, to love and to serve others. There was ample room for sympathy, but very little room for real empathy.
I still clearly remember the moment of invitation, lying in bed when a vivid three dimensional mental image came to mind of a plane of warm, living electrical activity with billions of small electrical spikes poking up. One of these spikes represented my reality. My worldview. I realized the plane and configuration of the spikes would look different if I was viewing from a different spike. Somebody else’s eyes. I asked myself which spike is God’s view? The answer that immediately entered my mind is that God is omniscient and omnipresent. God’s view is all of them. Simultaneously. I thought of the story of the atonement of Jesus I had learned since a small boy. That Jesus had somehow experienced everything each of us have experienced so that he could truly empathize with and support us. The greatest love. I realized if I were to begin to really follow him, I likewise needed to better understand others. To see and experience the world through many vantage points. Simultaneously. To really empathize.
I began to really listen to my wife’s perspective, my children’s perspectives, the viewpoints of others around me. To really try to understand. Not to persuade or to convince, but to really just understand. I listened to others within and without the LDS Church. While doing so, a strange thing happened. I lost the certainty of what I once knew while simultaneously experiencing more compassion and empathy than at any other time in my life. Communion with God in a way I had never experienced before.
I believe God is Love and Connection. At the heart of this I believe is empathy. A prerequisite for empathy is listening with our minds and hearts to really just understand. If I am positioned in my views defensively such that I can’t or won’t listen to really understand those around me, I believe I am also positioned to ignore the voice of God.
Jason Harris is a Neurologist/Neuro-Ophthalmologist, Dad and Husband who shares his experiences leaving the Mormon Church and reconstructing a new World-View. He believes all religions and scripture are man-made and believes there is Divinity in all of them.