Forgiveness and mercy are what heal, restore, and define us, that they actually are the fragrance that the rose leaves on the heel that crushes it.” — Anne Lamott, Hallelujah Anyway.
Anne Lamott’s image of a rose leaving a scent on the heel that has crushed it, has stuck with me ever since I read it. It has also caused me to wonder what scent I left when the boots in my life tried to keep me down on the ground. Was it the scent of a stinkbug or skunk, or did I leave the scent of a rose or my favorite, honeysuckle — the smell of honey and flowers with a hint of delight.
We read a lot about forgiving one’s enemies or anyone who has done us wrong, but we don’t hear a lot about showing mercy. The quality of mercy is that it can never be earned or deserved, otherwise its not mercy. I’ve tried to explain this to Judges when I speak to them across the country. Mercy is given despite of what someone has done, not because someone is entitled to it.
To extend mercy once the tables are turned is difficult. Maybe that’s why the prophet Micah tells us all what God requires of us all — to “Do Justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” According to Micah, God doesn’t require that we extend mercy, only that we love it when it is given.
We go against human instincts when we grant mercy, but as Anne Lamott reminds us it along with forgiveness is what heals and restores us.