Mercy Me.

When I was a child, I loved playing pretend, particularly a game we simply called “House”. You went into the yard, found a small secluded area and made it a home. Once, when I was at a friends, we were happily playing our favorite game in her backyard. We had hauled some wooden pallets to a corner of her yard and built a play stove by drawing circles on top of it, with a Sharpie marker that she had stolen from her Moms desk.  We had found an old tin pot, and were sitting in the white, fresh ash that Mt. St. Helens had recently blown everywhere. On our fancy new stove we were busily making “Soup” with leaves, sticks, rocks-like little girls do. Then came a defining moment in my little life.

We decided that the soup should be stew, instead and we should add meat to it. The desert was full of lizards, too fast for little girls to catch. But if you were very eagle-eyed, and held very still-you could catch giant grasshoppers. You didn’t want to, because they spit black stuff, but we ran all about, scooping them up and laughing  and calling out to each other across the sagebrush “I got one!”

Trouble was, they kept hopping out of our pot, and when my friend suggested how to fix the problem I hesitated, but agreed-not wanting to stop the game. It’s been about 30 years but my stomach still churns with revulsion, remembering how that giant grasshopper crunched as I chopped away at it with the side of an old metal spoon. It’s guts squished out and yet it was still alive, and though remorse was flooding, I realized I had to keep going in order to be merciful and end its life.

Suddenly all the joy I had felt, just a moment before-at playing and laughing in the sun with my best friend-it instantly vanished.

Gone with the sure knowledge that I had just killed something, in the name of fun. I was old enough to try to rationalize it-it was just a BUG. There were thousands of them. They spit in your hands. I didn’t even LIKE them.

But my conscience knew this truth: my fun came at a great cost. And that cost was too high, and suddenly I didn’t want to play anymore.

From that day on, I became a kind of bleeding heart radical. I couldn’t look at the front of cars, covered in dead bugs. I squirmed at them hitting the windshield. I rescued dying birds, took ladybugs back outside, and only justified the killing of spiders. I kept this quiet though, because I was a tomboy wanna-be and everyone knew that tough was cool, and sensitive hearts get mocked.

That brings us to now. I haven’t changed much from that little soft-hearted girl, except for the wonderful fact that I have begun to finally accept my quirks and not hide them.

Even when I am running, this particular trait of compassion comes out again. I have a Garmin sports watch and check it obsessively as I run, watching my pace, trying to get the minutes per mile average downdowndown…so I will keep running up hills, and skip unnecessary walking breaks and hardly stop to tie a shoelace, all in order to get my average pace low but, for me? because of this quirk?

mercy trumps success.

I slow, or even stop, for innocent creatures. Fat earthworms, skinny orange bellied newts, fuzzy caterpillars? I slow down, scoop them up and place (or toss gently) the bewildered beings into nearby safety. I can’t help it. Maybe I am still paying recompense for that poor grasshopper? Maybe it has just become a habit? I don’t know.

I just know I can’t run past them.

and today I was in a hurry. My pace was low and I was hoping to actually beat Fridays time, so I scooped and tossed that little newt in one fluid motion. She twirled around and landed in a stream of cold rainwater and I wondered at her impression of this act?

then I thought of how God has rescued me, with similar mercy, how I have been the newt on the road, a few times in my life!

happily walking what she felt was a cleaner, safer path…

glad just to be on a smoother surface than those scratchy pine needles…

and enjoying how the asphalt was warm on her belly…

she cannot see his the other newt corpses, splayed out on the road as a warning, but I can…

she can’t see those fierce, uncaring tires racing her way, but I can…

suddenly pulled from the direction she’s sure is perfect…

displaced, disoriented and tumbling, landing hard and looking around…

thinking what the heck just happened?!!

it’s hard to see this as rescuing from her view, but I know it really is…

I smile at the way the little newt just kind of shakes her head and keeps walking. I don’t usually recover that quick, but as I continue running I grin and thank God for the way He talks to my heart in little pictures like this.

So, toss me all about God!

You alone see the full picture, and when I get off-track, I want Your merciful hand to set me right…

Even if I do a cart-wheel or two in the air on the way home!

About sparrowjourney

Christian homeschooling mom to three boys, married to my best friend, John, for over 20 years. I love gardening without gloves, learning history with my kids, cooking with lots of butter, serving others, great books, rich coffee, studying the Bible, camping outdoors, scrapbooking, vintage home decor, the smell of rain and cut grass, authentic people, poetry, laughing until your sides hurt, and babies. oh and black licorice is pretty awesome.
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1 Response to Mercy Me.

  1. Heather says:

    Ah, Brenda, God has spoken through you straight to my heart this morning. After reading the simplicity of your post, I understand the tossing about…

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