Monday, October 11, 2010

Lord have Mercy

When I think of the word 'mercy' three scenes enter my mind:

[Act One, Scene One]
A lounge room. Two young kids wrestling each other, trying to inflict as much pain as possible on the other without causing long term damage. One grabs the other in a headlock, knuckles rigorously burrowing into the top of the others head mischievously screaming "Say it! Say it!" To which the other finally yields, "MERCY!" The children suddenly relax and tumble to the ground, one gloating in triumph, the other slumped in defeat.
[End scene]

[Scene Two]
A concert. One slowly descends a flight of grimy stairs, follows a narrow corridor into a dark, cavernous space. Words like 'Hell', 'Anarchy' and 'Rage' emblazoned across a sea of black T-shirts. Figures eagerly, yet somehow ever-so-cooly, await the flooding of  stage lights revealing their idol standing headstrong amid a flurry of smoke.Suddenly a thunderously bass line rips through the air; a man seemingly of mutant decent, steps forward to the microphone as the crowd approaches catatonia, and with an ear splitting "HAVE NO MERCY!" The show begins...
[End Scene]

[Scene Three]
A cathedral. Neath towering steeples, an aged few scuffle down the aisle finding pews formerly shared with late loved ones and with a slight wince their rears make contact with the hard wood. A greying man adorned with white robes rises to sombrely address the Sunday smattering. "Lord have Mercy." To which, the people, as though programmed to do so, respond without hesitation, "Christ have Mercy."
[End Scene]

For the first time in my life tonight, I pondered the word 'Mercy.' And realised that despite having three very clear pictures spring to mind upon hearing it, the true essence of the word was totally lost on me and I had never fully appreciated what it truly means. 
So, obviously, I googled it.

And basically: To show mercy is to show compassion where compassion is not due.

To look someone in the eye who has knowingly done you wrong and to say "As an act of love, I'm not going to punish you and nor is anyone else." The sheer strength of character that would take is enormous. Mercy, so foreign but so profoundly needed. How powerful! It's like that saying, "Turn the other cheek." Until recently, I have always understood that saying to mean when someone is doing something bad or hurting you in some way, you should turn away and ignore it. But rather it being a rejection of responsibility it is the opposite. If someone's hurting you on one cheek you should expose your other cheek to them so they can get all their anger and frustration on you and you take it as an act of mercy and by extension, love. True mercy - totally unheard of in a society obsessed with justice, retribution and revenge.

                        My first thought?     
                                            "...I should get it tattooed on me..."

But then, I thought, why not instead get tattooed, "Insert cliché here." How sad is it that some of the most powerful words in the English language have been corroded down to a meaningless assembly of letters.


"So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind."  Ecclesiastes 2:17

We are only as meaningful as the language we speak. Modern English is like a "Dummies Guide to Verbal Expression." Wouldn't it be great if we communicated in a language like Greek where there are four different words for Love. Maybe then, words so richly profound as 'mercy' would not have me lost in superficial scenes in my imagination but awestruck by the revolutionary potential that understanding it could have on the world.

                             My final thought?
                                                                 "...I want to be a woman of mercy."