the honor of Mercy

29 09 2010

The past few weeks have shown me that 1) when pushed hard enough I seem to have the temper of a red-headed Irish spitfire, 2) some law enforcement need more real crime to keep them busy (calling all criminals!), and 3) sometimes life just isn’t fair. But 4) what they have shown me most of all is that mercy is (and I know of no better way to say this) a discerning, exquisite, and transformative gift.

Justice, as he is called, is a punctilious sort of fellow who respects truth and rightness but who, like a dog that chases its tail, can end up spinning round and round–and sometimes with as little regard as the dog has for what’s around him. “An eye for an eye makes the world blind,” Mahatma Ghandi rightly stated about the consequence of Justice’s mantra. Justice is, already, blind to circumstance, effort, or intention. He has no room for ambiguity and cannot fully stay balanced. When alone, Justice is rickety, standing on the knife-edge of law, where one misstep or one slip may result in harm, or at least the severe declaration of being outside the law and therefore wide open for Punishment to come in and bop you on the head or to sometimes even push you when you are already down. Or worse, compel you to then exact some nitty-gritty justice of your own from someone else. Justice alone cannot rule the world without eventually–as the tail-chasing dog–catching his own tail and gnawing away, self-consuming.

Enter Mercy.

When a law or regulation is broken and Justice hurls himself in like an immobile bouncer on a nightmare boomerang, and when effort is made to restore what was lost and Mercy invited (she does not have to come, after all), she enters like a wise and poised jaguar on the fluidity of a sigh, dangerous only in the sense that she both dismantles and reconstructs at once: disassembling defenses and grudges, and constructing a more sagacious path for precariously perched and perennial Justice. Mercy elucidates, clarifying and siphoning understanding and compassion from what seem like depth-less and impossible wells. Like a water diviner in the parched and unforgiving desert ground, Mercy summons wisdom and taps it, ending the ever-devouring thirst of Justice and stilling his circular and sometimes blinding run. Shifting the center and determining real balance.

Mercy in all her exhales (Compassion, Kindness, Understanding, Courtesy) has the dexterity to calm the spirit, clarify the path of Justice, and–most impressively–motivate the upset heart to fully respect and befriend Justice.

So the next time you are offered a little Courtesy or Understanding, or you are shown Kindness and Mercy, even when Justice claims “No Visitors,” remember that to receive any of them is an honor and a gift, the likes of which without make the solo world of Justice seem, to me, miserably vindicatory and intolerable. Or the next time you are given a chance to channel any whisper of Mercy to another, allow her through without hesitation because Mercy will be, for everyone, a gift of such consummate honor.




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