(First - my nephew Ross is doing ok so far - still responsive. In the morning, we'll see.)
Yesterday I wrote about Sheldon Vanauken's "A Severe Mercy", which is more or less about how sometimes God has to amputate part of our heart to save it.
The concept of mercy's an important one, because it's the active core of love and compassion. Love and compassion are what we feel; mercy is what we do.
Mercy is love that comes with a cost.
The writer of "America the Beautiful" says it best in one of the 'later verses'- "Oh beautiful for heroes proved/in liberating strife/who more than selves their country loved/and mercy more than life..."
Mercy more than life. It brings to mind firefighters running up the stairs in the World Trade Center on September 11, or Father Maximillian Kolbe, volunteering to exchange his life for another's in a Nazi concentration camp.
Dramatic, and far beyond experience for most of us - thank God. But sometimes, we do have the chance to exercise mercy, to exercise compassion with a price.
How? Well, think - have you ever had a chance to take revenge against a backbiting colleague or friend? Revenge that would put him or her down, and vindicate you?
If you had the chance and didn't, that's mercy. Any time you put your own interests or desires aside to show love, that's mercy.
I hope you'll have that chance, and take it.