On Mercy and Lamentation

“Phyllis Trible has taught us that the Hebrew word for ‘mercy’ is the word for ‘womb’ with different vowel points. And so mercy, she suggested is womb-like mother love. And it is the capacity of the mother to totally give one’s self over to the need and reality and identity of child. And mutatis mutandis then, mercy is the capacity to give one’s self away for sake of neighborhood. Now none of us do that completely. But it makes a difference if the quality of social transactions have to do with the willingness to give one’s self away for the sake of the other rather than the need to always be drawing all of the resources to myself for my own well-being.

So it is this kind of generous connectedness to–and then I think our task is to see how translates in to policy…I think that a community or a society finally cannot live without the quality of mercy. The problem for us is what will initiate that? What will break the pattern of self-preoccupation enough to notice the others are out there and we’re attached to them?” Walter Brueggemann

Okay so I took this quote from the On Being Blog, which I value so much. See an interview with Walter Brueggemann here (You’ll have to paste it into your browser because, for some reason, my linking function is not working today in WordPress so here it is http://blog.onbeing.org/post/5610871552/live-video-in-the-room-with-walter-brueggemann). It is worth listening to. I love how he says that poets cannot be silenced. He also points out that the church text today has removed most references to lamentations because in our consumer society, we just go from one high to the next. Americans are only now starting to, once again, confront loss and the meaning of loss.

On Mercy. I picked this picture up from a blog last year. I’ve kept it in my photo album on my Mac because every time I see it, it challenges me in so many ways. How can I live on this planet and be concerned about a parking space at Whole Foods Market (where I buy my expensive quinoa) when across the world, images like this are so plentiful? This is the incongruity that we live with everyday. I live in my palace and feed my son rich milk (supplanted by my expensive quinoa and chocolate) and provide him the best medical care and this mother gives all she has. And it is not enough. I am the one who needs mercy here. I cannot look at this image without tearing up. That’s how it should be. But if I don’t act, am I then like the man by the side of the road who cannot leave family and friends to follow Jesus? Incongruity.


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