Sometimes I listen to Selah's, "Wonderful, Merciful Savior" just to remember - and to give thanks.
For so much of my life, I seemed to live from mistake-to-mistake. It was never intentional. But it did seem to be the path I walked.
When I returned to the study and practice of Christian Science, I was so grateful for this passage from the book of Micah:
"He hath shewed thee,
O man, what is good;
and what doth the Lord
require of thee,
but to do justly,
and to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with thy God..."
I loved these clear and simple instructions. I could do this. But it was the "to love mercy," part that felt like a bit of a "no-brainer" to me. Who didn't "love mercy?" Why would that be a requirement. It seemed so natural.
That was until the first time I wasn't the biggest mistake-maker in the room. It happened. It was a small injustice. But I felt it, and I was a bit [okay, more than a bit] self-righteous about the other person's misstep. Shouldn't there be consequences, repercussions? But no, there was mercy. Really?
Thank goodness for the Weekly Bible Lesson outlined in the Christian Science Quarterly. That week's collection of citations from Scripture, and from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy included the above referenced spiritual instruction from the book of Micah.
Reading it, in the context of my self-righteous indignation about the other person's mistake, was when I finally "got it." It was easy to love mercy, when the mercy was being shown to you. But what about the mercy that is being shown to another -- when a mistake has been made or a wrong felt? Not as easy.
In these times of "he said, she said," and deep polarization -- with accusations flying like flaming arrows in the battle scene from Braveheart. It is always easy to see - and feel indignant - when the guy from the other side seems to be shown unmerited forgiveness. We sometimes feel even further wronged by a lack of consequence.
This is when "to love mercy" becomes a rigorous spiritual imperative. It requires the exercise of our utmost trust in divine Love's overarching justice, oversight, and correction according to the operation of Principle -- not a personal sense of right and wrong.
To love mercy is to trust that our Father-Mother God has "got this." This summer, I walked straight into the fire of my own past mistakes. This passage from Mary Baker Eddy's autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection, perfectly describes that chasm of self-sorrow:
"Into mortal mind's material obliquity I gazed, and stood abashed. Blanched was the cheek of pride. "
It wasn't the mistakes of a young girl that I saw in this obliquity of self, but the pride, self-righteousness, and self-certainty of a woman who had lost sight of what it meant to live in a state of, as Eddy suggests, "constant self-immolation."
But I didn't look away. I gazed into that space with a deep trust in divine Love's ability to mercifully correct and restore Her child's innocence and humility. And that is when the remainder of that paragraph, from Retrospection and Introspection, came alive for me:
"My heart bent low before the omnipotence of Spirit, and a tint of humility, soft as the heart of a moonbeam, mantled the earth. Bethlehem and Bethany, Gethsemane and Calvary, spoke to my chastened sense as by the tearful lips of a babe. Frozen fountains were unsealed. Erudite systems of philosophy and religion melted, for Love unveiled the healing promise and potency of a present spiritual afflatus.
It was the gospel of healing, on its divinely appointed human mission, bearing on its white wings, to my apprehension, “the beauty of holiness,” — even the possibilities of spiritual insight, knowledge, and being."
Here was the mercy and redemption that brought hope, promise, and purpose. This was the Love that silenced self-hate. The Truth that vanquished error. The Soul that leaves us feeling worthy of our work, not relieved from duty.
I think I will leave this here. Let us strive to not only do what is good, and walk humbly, but to truly love mercy. Love it for everyone. Love it with all of our trust. Our trust in the Source of its power -- to redeem and reform.
offered with Love,