Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The ultimate act

Mercy is on my list of blog topics, spawned, I believe by our Quaker minister's message sometime back. And, I can't find it to refresh my memory. However, yesterday's excerpt from Thomas Keating's  The Daily Reader for Contemplative Living reminded me of my desire to explore this topic. Here's what re-piqued my interest:
"If we did not have to forgive people, we would have no way of manifesting God's forgiveness toward us. People who injure us are doing us a great favor because they are providing us with the opportunity of passing on the mercy that we have received. By showing mercy, we increase the mercy we receive."
Embrace/pastel on paper
Not easy stuff – we should be grateful for being hurt? How radically anti-cultural is that?

I googled mercy and scrolled past too many hospitals with that name to get to the Wikipedia entry, which described mercy as compassion and practiced in most world religions, although the Latin root means payment and reward.

When our daughters were much younger, we visited Chicago and the American Girl store to have tea with their dolls. What stood out for my youngest and continues to was the homeless woman lying in an alley because she couldn't walk. Lily gave out money to several homeless people that trip, but this woman claimed her heart and mercy. She still brings her up from time to time.

I find that kind of mercy easy. I have all the compassion in the world for the misfortunate, poor, diseased and marginalized ... especially those I don't know Mercy and forgiveness are more difficult for me to mete out when it's someone in my family or a close friend. Those hurts are harder to release.

However, I have been prompted to surrender some of them thanks to a recent metaphysical retreat on opening your heart. We were asked to write a letter of forgiveness, then burn it, symbolizing our release of the injury. It wasn't hard to find an instance. I chose a time my sister said something I felt was rather unkind that I am certain she has heard from others, over and over. She struggles with celiac disease and I, with fibromyalgia. I suspect we are more alike than different. At any rate, I was angry enough to remain out of touch with her. I have forgiven the remark, knowing it was out of her own pain. I just don't know how to re-engage. I am asking Spirit to guide the way.

Having selected an incident, writing the letter, then burning it melted my smugness, preparing me for the next exercise: writing a letter asking someone else's forgiveness, then looking in the mirror at ourselves and forgiving ourselves. Peering in the mirror was hardest. As I peel back the layers of forgiveness from strangers to family to myself, I find forgiving myself the most profound and challenging.

Years ago, in my Quaker Meeting I had a leading to facilitate a worship of forgiveness. I was thinking of institutional, societal and global hurt fueled by my involvement in a neighborhood group grappling with race relations. It was a very small gathering, but meaningful for those assembled. When we ended, I realized I had been urged to this as a means of forgiving myself.

God forgives and wraps me in mercy all of the time. Why is it less possible to do the closer it gets to home (me)? Why am I hardest on myself?

I am learning to cut myself more slack the deeper I delve into relationship with Spirit, where mercy and forgiveness are a reward.

• What does mercy mean to me?
• Where do I find forgiveness in my life?
• Where do I struggle with these concepts?
• What has Spirit taught me?
• How have I learned from others?

hard to understand
what the problem
is in giving it

we have
the perfect
example right
before us

without mercy
and forgiveness,
how would we
survive as imperfect

giving them
are steps toward
unconditional love,
the ultimate act

Listen to this post:


  1. Thank you for your post. It speaks to my heart. I recently wrote on the topic myself as I once again found myself struggling with forgiveness at the most intimate of levels.

    Love yourself!

  2. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I appreciated reading your post and how you learned to release a very personal hurt. Blessings A!

  3. It is difficult to understand many things in life -- like why people behave in a particular manner? But world is made like this only. Even when you go on forgiving others, they may go on torturing you and enjoying their act. this is why a time comes when a Krishna or a Parshuram comes who thinks that not forgiveness but punishment or even elimination is necessary.

  4. Dr. Prabuddha,
    I appreciate your taking the time to comment. Addressing evil rather than transgressions is tricky, especially if the perpetration continues. I wonder if you are speaking metaphorically about Krishna and Parshuram as forces of cleansing.