“..for there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.”
Milan Kundera

It would be a understatement to suggest this year has been a difficult one, for everyone. Fear, uncertainty, stunning losses of jobs, human connections and lives that have gone too soon.

You see the look of shock in the faces of your neighbours and your loved ones. You feel it at the very core of your being. You mirror the same look back as you go about your day.

“How do we help each other?” We ask ourselves. And in doing so, help ourselves.

Such questions sit heavily in my mind as I stare at the winter wonderland that came early to Sun Peaks. Pillowy, white snow covers the ground as we travel for one last time this year to search for a boy that should have been found long ago.

This journey has dropped me, unwanted into a pit of despair and grief. The walls slick and steep making any progress out difficult and tiring.
Luckily or perhaps, unluckily I am hardly ever alone.
My family and my beloved friends come join me from time to time. Legions of others sit on the periphery shoring up the sides, providing substance and support so that the walls don’t cave in.

But it isn’t sympathy that brings them there nor keeps them beside me.

It is empathy and compassion.

On the surface, they seem similar. Both offer comfort and grace, support and love. Both give of themselves to sit with me as the tears roll down my face, as my heart shatters, pieces itself together and breaks anew.

But it is the empathy that drives me to attempt the task of reaching above to grab the necessary rungs and begin my climb yet again. It is the empathy that says, “I see you, I’m here for you and I will stand beside you offering my strength until you can stand on your own”.

The pit is only temporary. It will shift and shrink over time, I pray. But it will never feel as dark or lonely with so many willing to share the space with me.

Empathy will see us through this year. If we hold onto and shower others with it, empathy will be our saviour and our grace.