Advent 13: The Mercy…

The word ‘mercy’ has meaning for me.

A few years ago, I curated a collection of poetry, gathering together a team of editors, towards whom I pitched the title ‘reaching for mercy’. Initially the reaction was not positive. ‘Mercy’, they thought, sounded too… religious. I was surprised, because to someone like me, who had become disconnected from organised religion, mercy meant something else. I think I first hatched the idea from this song;

It was around the ascent of Trump, when it felt deeply moving to be reminded of this kind of America- that of broken humanity in search of redemption, of non-conformity and tentative (but determinded) hopefulness.

I did win the argument. Mercy, recast as a post-religious word, might be understood as a tender word of hopefulness used like embrocation on our own wounds, even the self-inflicted ones.

Skip forward a few years and my understanding of mercy has expanded somewhat towards something that I will call ‘The Mercy’.

Here is Cynthia Bourgeault on the same subject;

The term I will use to describe this embodying fullness is “the Mercy.” It is the water in which we swim. Mercy is the length and breadth and height and depth of what we know of God—and the light by which we know it. You might even think of it as the Being of God insofar as we can possibly penetrate into it in this life, so that it is impossible to encounter God apart from the dimension of mercy. . . .

The mercy of God . . . is unconditional—always there, underlying everything. It is literally the force that holds everything in existence, the gravitational field in which we live and move and have our being. . . . Mercy is God’s innermost being turned outward to sustain the visible and created world in unbreakable love. . . . 

This is from here.

Suddenly, the mercy is everything.

It is not longer just confined to acts of kind humanity, instead it is a magnetic force of love that holds everything together.

I could, and probably should, say a lot more about what I mean by this, but perhaps you are way ahead of me anyway. Instead, I will offer this poem, which was my way of reaching towards the same conclusion.


I am


I am bird, I am wind

I am scaled, I am skinned

I am soil, I am stone

I am flesh, I am bone

I am ebb, I am flow

I am stream, I am snow

I am all of these things

And I am nothing


I am love, I am light

I am morning, I am night

I am atom, I am star

I am close, I am far

I am start, I am end

I am stranger, I am friend

I am all of these things

And I am nothing


I am silence, I am song

I am right, I am wrong

I am sea, I am shore

I am less, I am more

I am young, I am old

I am iron, I am gold

I am all of these things

And I am nothing

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