Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: The Charge of Mercy

Crystal Springs spring! 060
Photo by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

It may be that making room
for mercy, letting it take hold
of you, does so only at a price.
You may never again see yourself
or another without feeling
a deep release of tenderness,
an upsurge in benevolence
like a music unfurled by light.

Many suffer, pass by day or night and
you will recognize a hoard of hurts
and consolation will spill unbidden,
even in your smile or nod of your head,
a flash meeting of your eyes and another’s.
Charity rises from the soul’s wellspring,
and fills you. It will long to act.

Even if what is returned is
disconsolate anger, even if a
ruinous emptiness
you will offer a gentling of more mercy.
And when someone pains you,
compassion and forbearance
will take charge in spite
of unjust, fearful jarrings.
You can endure much in mercy.

Who knows what being merciful can bring?
Perhaps a revolution of wholeness: begin.
Who said our human lives will be a lark?
Can we be generous if we are lazy, only smart?
Can we be kind and be selfish, then hope to heal?
We learn to be humble, then wings can grow.

You alone know your true reflection
in the mirrored passages of time,
if you answered yes when
someone needed forgiveness,
if you answered no when revenge
bellowed your name.

Either way, mercy lives on

best when you claim it, free it, use it.
It moves in the power of opening hands,
in reverberations of simple, decent care.
Some may welcome it and perhaps even you.
Many will not ever notice.
You are the one
who will be
changed by mercy
reigniting your valiant life

12 thoughts on “Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: The Charge of Mercy

  1. A wonderful reminder to engage in the act of mercy, bidden or not! It reminds me of the phrase, “the kindness of strangers..” I forget where that came from , but seems also appropriate to remember.

  2. What a beautiful poem, Cynthia! It pairs so beautifully with the book I am just finishing, Anne Lamott’s Hallelujah Anyway where over and over again, she writes of mercy, both being its recipient and its bestower. And just five minutes ago, I read in Garrison Keillor’s Wrtier’s Almanac that it is the birthday of Annie Dillard. I offer a quote that was included, by the author, referring to not hoarding your very best idea when writing, but giving it all in the moment. After reading your poem, I went back and read her quote, substituting the word “mercy” anytime she was referring to withholding a particulary inspired thought for later. Mercy withheld, as she ends her thought, may be like finding ashes in the cupboard when we finally get around to thinking it is the right and deserved moment upon which to bestow mercy. Thank you Cynthia!

    Her advice: “One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”

    1. Thank you for the good words, Susan. And it is true that Anne Lamott is a fine writer and a very spiritual person–thanks for the reminders! We all can benefit from reading and meditating on ever more sage offerings. My best to you.

  3. Beautiful with a beautiful message that well suits the topic. Mercy is one of those human attributes that we don’t hear much of now-a-days. Thank you for the meaningful poem.

  4. Love it. Inspirational and cathartic. It allows us to reflect on the journey one must take in order to embrace forgiveness, and being merciful to self and others.

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