Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sowing Mercy Seeds

Yesterday we drove out to the country to a small town which, every Labor Day, has yard sales on nearly every street and a huge flea market on the Fair Grounds, as well. Rather like visiting the Mother Lode. Tom found four jade-ite salad plates for me for just $10 (if you know anything about jade-ite, you realize that's a great deal).

My favorite find? This kitchen lamp, in the photo, from probably the 1950's for only $3.50. In an issue of Mary Englebreit's Home Companion she drew a picture of one for an essay written on the back page. I never forgot the picture nor the essay, so when I spied this similar lamp, I gasped. Looks like new and looks as though it was designed just for our kitchen.

So yesterday was nearly-perfect, what with the dozen yard sales and the flea market out in the pretty green meadow.

I say nearly-perfect, though, because when I awoke that morning and came down here to the computer, the first news, right there before my eyes, was the death notice of Steve Irwin. And in the midst of all the country things I love, all day my heart kept returning to the sad fact of Steve's death. Tom and I really enjoyed watching Steve--we even went and saw his movie years ago in the theater and came away smiling. And we watched him, his wife and daughter on Oprah, too, as well as catching a few of his own programs before we let go of cable.

Always, I felt a little frightened for him. It would come to me that here was a man who was so obviously doing what he was called to do upon this Earth--and yet not always was he using wisdom while doing it. And that is what scared me... and that is what whispered little fearful warnings to my heart that someday Steve would die tackling the animals he loved with all his heart. I even remember praying for him a few times--for his safety, but mostly, for increased measures of wisdom.

And I never, never thought he would die this young.

I went to a blog yesterday and was, well, horrified at the harsh criticism this person made of Steve... I'll not repeat it here (nor the ensuing know-it-all comments), but I'll just say this verse came to my mind:

"Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy." ... Matthew 5:7

Yes, Steve made mistakes, but then who of us hasn't? And since so much of his life was captured upon film, how many of us could stand up under having our own mistakes played for all the world to see? And having every wrong small move written out in newspapers, turned into big wrong moves? How many of us could put up with all the criticism which must surround a calling which is not your ordinary, every day, 9-to-5-job variety... one calling which 95% of people do not comprehend? One which is so far removed from their safe (and often predictable), comfortable lives?

The most unhappy people I know? They are also the most unmerciful people I know. Every time. They are the ones who criticize those who make different choices than they would... they speak harshly about others' past failures... and they gossip to others about things which are none of their business... people who, after their favorite neighbors/actors/singers make one wrong move, they cast them away, feeling righteous all the while...

...and then they are shocked when people treat them the very same way.

Good grief. Where is the surprise?

Well, I don't know about you, but I need mercy. Lots of it. And so you will find me on most days out in a sort of Garden of Life--sowing madly the tiny seeds of mercy, for that is what I want to reap. Mercy--whole waving fields of it. And great big crops of forgiveness, too, while I'm at it.

And like Steve Irwin did, may I leave this Earth a better place for having lived here, even if it's for just a little while.


"Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times?
Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven!" Matthew 18:21,22

(Jesus said): "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Matthew 9:13

"But loving-kindness and mercy, loyalty and faithfulness, shall be to those who devise good." Proverbs 14:22

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