There are times when you are placed in the context of another so completely that you see yourself through the eyes and heart of the other. You are given a window, and then a mirror.
This happens by way of an extemporary invitation. It’s in the face. There is an opening, an unscheduled moment of vulnerability; and when you step into that moment you yourself become open and vulnerable.
And you become human. Your beliefs and thoughts, your face, your centre, are received in mercy as you receive those of another. Jewish philosopher Martin Buber calls this an I/Thou experience.
I knew the answer but I asked a friend if she had had this experience. She said she has it very often. Which confirms why she is so radically empathetic.
While I don’t believe these experiences can be planned or reproduced I do believe we can watch for them. As we should wait and watch for anything–like empathy–that calls us into the human family.