Therefore be merciful, even as your heavenly Father isÂ merciful. (Luke 6)
Itâ€™s not just the driven people who worship at shrines of self-expectation. We all have laws that we manage to set just beyond reach and reason. We donâ€™t do this consciously. Somehow, by the time we notice, weâ€™ve already been operating by them for years. Theyâ€™re just there, inherited. They accuse us when ever we let up. And we twist ourselves out of shape racing away from them or rigidly adhering to them, which in the end amounts to the same thing. They remain in control.
Hope Mission,Â as part of our Spring Banquet celebration is honouringÂ theÂ Graduates ofÂ our Addiction Treatment program. Thereâ€™s a good chance that the people we will hear from tonight have learned that the way through this double-bind is self-mercy. And itâ€™s also a good chance theyâ€™ve learned it the long way. Learned as well that growing mercy is a life-long process. Learned that it goes hand in hand with Godâ€™s ever-present mercy and the mercy of others which is very nearly the same thing.
We canâ€™t be perfect, that is, â€œperfectâ€ in the vernacular. Iâ€™m not sure, but I think the perfection mentioned in the Bible is of a different variety. We can aim for excellenceâ€“a good thingâ€“but we tend to let our aim harden into a crust that is again impervious to mercy. And when we inevitably fail to live up to ourselves, or the perceived expectations of others, we stuff justifications into the gaps and become prickly.
We need a very large garden of mercy to wander in until our prickly hearts soften, until the inner knots slacken and release. The garden needs tending but donâ€™t over water or over weed. It grows on its own, offering possibilities.
We never really know about gardens. Theyâ€™re a mystery. Except that God likes to wander in them in the evening.
So as you goâ€¦clear out the clutter you can, but accept a bit of litter in your life. Allow yourself to be angry at injustice. Visit a friend who really knows you. Have tea on a patio. Buy a mouth-harp. Find a stone or a piece of wood, rub the dirt off and carry it in your pocket. Remember the place you picked it up. Listen to real slow bluegrassâ€¦visit your garden in the eveningâ€¦and grow mercy.