Saturday, December 17, 2016

Advent: Mercy

Mercy is the snow that blankets the city erases its grit, and fills the air with the crisp smell of the countryside so that the city can forget for a few hours that it is a city. Mercy is a hot shower that wipes away the grime of the day and leaves you clean and refreshed.

A longstanding pet peeve of mine is when people complain that someone is getting mercy who doesn't deserve it. It's even worse when they complain that they themselves deserve it more than the other person.

No, you fatuous nincompoop, I want to say, mostly because "fatuous nincompoop" sounds so epic, that's the point of mercy. No one deserves it. If we deserved mercy, it would be our just desserts. If mercy were something we could buy, it would be a tawdry bauble. If someone owed us mercy because we were good people or had earned it, it would be worthless. Like its close cousin grace, which puts crackheads in a place of honor, mercy is a marvel because we don't deserve it and have no right to claim it. Mercy says more about the person who grants it (or won't) than it does about the one who receives it.

For all that, I have to agree with this: Mercy is frustrating, precisely because it is uneven in its application. Some people's debts are forgiven, and others have to pay them off. Some are pardoned in the nick of time, some too late, and some never at all.

To that, I have no answer.

Copyright © 2016 by David Learn. Used with permission.

No comments: