|Mercy droppeth as gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.|
The quality of mercy is not strained...It droppeth as gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath…. It is twice blest ….. It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice
In his wisdom, Pope Francis invites every one of us to take a good long loving look at the quality of mercy. As a matter of fact, he has called forth a whole year for us to wrestle with this notion of mercy. What does mercy invoke in us? What are other names for mercy? What faces come to us when we take the time to reflect on occasions in our own lives when mercy made a difference?
Wrestle best describes my recent experience in coming to a fresh new place within me where I can befriend mercy. First I sat with the Kyrie, “Lord have Mercy”, that we pray at every Mass. It is never comforting for me to have to ask for mercy. It brings up feelings of messing up and falling short of being my better self. Opening up to qualities such as loving kindness, forgiveness, compassion, gentleness, courage, patience and reaching out have allowed space for mercy to come closer. How many times have I received mercy from so many people in such a variety of circumstances! To count them would be like counting the stars or the grains of salt in a salt shaker.
One revelation is that the response to “Lord Have Mercy” has come through the agency of a multitude of people in my life. Every act of mercy has a face. Mercy received leaves an impression one never forgets even if it cannot named or acknowledged.
Another insight is that we are all agents of mercy time and time again. Mercy is as, Shakespeare well knew, a blessing to the one who gives as well as the one who receives. When asked what mercy means to me, I recalled a time when without realizing it, I was an agent of mercy. Here I share the story.
I expect that as we all continue to wrestle with the place mercy is calling us to this year, that we will have many surprises.