Sunday, July 08, 2012

Difficult mercies

Last week I discovered that someone had attempted to plagiarize work that I had done almost 20 years ago. The attempt was caught before it was published, and the editorial staff of the publication where the work was submitted are dealing with the sequeulae, but the experience has me thinking about mercy. That and Math Man and I have been watching
Game of Thrones (or I've been watching some of it, and covering my eyes and ears for other parts - 'tis not for the faint of heart), with its battling knights, who cry "Mercy!" as a last resort, and slink from the tourney field as if they have taken the coward's way out.

I posted this video for the RevGalBlogPals' Sunday Afternoon Music feature, reflecting briefly there about the difficult mercies today's readings speak of. I wonder, in particular, how much of a mercy Paul found that angel that kept him grounded in the gritty realities of daily life, and how much courage it took to admit to a need to keep his pride in check. And the courage it took to see the grace and mercy caught up in what must have been an exquisitely troubling experience. He asked for one mercy — relief from the thorns, metaphorical or otherwise — and another was offered, grace sufficient to endure whatever came. It was not a mercy for the cowardly.

I kept hearing this stanza from Rory Cooney's Canticle of the Turning:

Though I am small, my God, my all, you work great things in me,
And your mercy will last from the depths of the past to the end of the age to be.
Your very name puts the proud to shame, and to those who would for you yearn,
You will show your might, put the strong to flight, for the world is about to turn.

The simmering power of this arrangement, the bass and cello lines that made my desk reverberate, reminded me that while I might welcome the small mercies of relief, the difficult mercies are what at work in my depths. It takes more than a small measure of courage to open oneself to such such mercy, a grace in itself.

Update: Fran pointed me to Michael Iafrate's version of this piece which sounds like drops on a still lake.


  1. Oh Michelle, that is awful. It makes you stop and think about how things like that do happen... *shudder* I am so sorry.

    I was intrigued with Game of Thrones when it first started, but I never did see it... Now I'm not so sure.

    As for your musical selection, oh my heart. I think of how much I love Rory's music, this song in particular. It also reminds me of Facebook friend Michael Iafrate; he is a theologian and a musician, he has a lovely version of it as well.

    Prayers Michelle and so much peace.

  2. Fran...between Masses today someone asked me if anything good happened to me this week between the plagiarism, the credit card mishap and the car. And I had to say that actually, it was a pretty good week (even if I did spend an inordinate amount of time on email and the phone dealing with the fallout). Mercy takes strange forms!

    Now I'm off to see if I can find Michael Iafrate's version...

  3. Gary Daigle's version is wonderful, too.