This Lenten season, we are reflecting on the wildness of mercy. When we really look around us and examine our lives, it’s really hard to come up with something like an equation that will explain and predict mercy. So often mercy comes in unexpected ways and in unimaginable amounts. When you think of some of the pain and injustices in our world and in the past, it really is incredible that we have come through as we have. This should give us hope for the future.
But even so, we are always tempted to look after our own. To take a smaller, more manageable view of life. To pare things back so that we can feel productive or successful. But Divine mercy does not work that way.
Rabbi Martin Buber (1878-1965) shares this story from the Jewish tradition:
“The Yehudi was asked: ‘In the Talmud it says that the stork is called hasida in Hebrew, that is, the devout or the loving one, because he gives so much love to his mate and his young. Then why is he classed in the Scriptures with the unclean birds?’ He answered: ‘Because he gives love only to his own.’”
That is how it is with the wildness of mercy. No limits. No convenient borders or boundaries. We never know where we are going to be needed. Where we will be called to serve. Where we will be led to have an influence or make an impact. It could be anywhere. Anything. But we know that if we only look to our close circle, we are cutting ourselves off from the vast expanse of the wildness of mercy that we are not only called to give but that we also receive. Yes, have compassion upon yourself and those close to you, but don’t stop there. Don’t try to tame the wildness of mercy.
Prayer: May we be grateful for family and friends and those who encircle us with love and care. And may the compassion we learn at home teach us that the whole world is our home and the entire web of life is our family. Amen.