This morning, as I prayed in preparation for a Mercy Day blog, I found it hard to pull the bright thread of Mercy out from the jumble of concerns now enveloping me – and I think most of us.
Of course, there’s the relentless pandemic. But there is a host of other burdensome issues pre-dating Covid 19 that seem to have gotten entangled with that global worry:
- world poverty and hunger
- endless war
- climate crisis
- racial injustice
- poisonous politics
- depersonalization of refugees and immigrants
I spent a long part of the morning wondering what I could write about Mercy in the shadow of these worries.
Then an image came to me … a delightful memory of my childhood in 1950s North Philadelphia.
I’ve always treasured the fact that I grew up in a “real” neighborhood of row houses and still safe streets. It was a geography of unarticulated intimacy, respect, and protection. You knew when your next door neighbor got up in the morning and ran the bath tub. The walls were shared with people of every possible ethnicity and religion. Even our telephone was on a “party line”, connected with a neighbor at the end of the block whom, of course, we never listened in on.
As little kids, we went out on a summer morning and never came home until we heard our mothers call from the doorsteps of our compacted houses. We spent the hours playing street games like Baby-in-the-Air, handball, hose ball, jacks, jumping rope, Red Rover. If you’ve never played them or even heard of them, I’m so sorry. You won’t find any fun like them in today’s video game stores!
But the frolic that came to mind this morning was the simple game of Tag and its core element of “base”. I pictured Petey Nicolo standing, eyes covered, against the corner telephone pole, chanting Tag’s magic formula:
Five, ten, fifteen, twenty ……
Anybody around my base is “It”!
The chant revealed this key component the game: if you touched “base” (the telephone pole), you were immune from the tag. You were safe.
Maybe my little reverie back to my childhood doesn’t seem much like a Mercy Day prayer, but here’s the thing.
Our merciful God is our “base”, our Refuge. Touching into God’s abiding love for us, we are safe from the “tag” of life’s multitudinous worries. This is so, not because the worries disappear, but we are able to look through them to the Mercy of God who will always deliver us to grace if we ask.
On this strange Mercy Day, we are prevented in so many ways from touching one another. Let us, nevertheless, listen through the pandemic walls that separate us. Let us tap into one another’s “party line”. Let us run together, loved and protected children, toward Mercy Who calls us even, and maybe especially, in our tumultuous times. Let us place all the tangles in God’s gentle, unraveling fingers.
And as we run, let’s grab the hands of those our selfish culture wants to leave behind, pulling them with us to Lavish Mercy.
Music – Home by David Nevue