Although we often want the clarity of a single definition, it may be better to image mercy as a river “welling up” and “overflowing” in many ways.
At times, to have mercy is to call to a potential for good in a person that is present even if at the moment it is in danger of being eclipsed.
At times, to have mercy entails pointing out the harm to individuals that policies and structures are doing and calling everyone to create better structures and behaviors.
At times, to have mercy means to be patient with yourself as you create the words and deeds that will show love and be willing to reevaluate those words and deeds to find better ways.
At times, to have mercy is to reach out to those who are suffering, be present with them, and help to alleviate their suffering.
At times, mercy entails seeking out the sacrament of confession to find forgiveness and new life.
At times, mercy is shown when you cultivate non-judgmental awareness toward yourselves and others, seeking to fully understand before you rush to judgment.
At times, practicing mercy means asking people about their experiences of mercy - when have they received or given or witnessed mercy?
At times, to cultivate mercy is study what people have discovered and written about mercy and allow it to interact with your experience.
At times, it is beneficial to remember our efforts at mercy are what our lives are most deeply about.
At times, mercy means to enter into compassionate exchanges where you disclose your world and enter into the world of another.
How has mercy welled up and overflown in your life?
© John Shea