You may have seen the bumper sticker that says, “If you lived in your heart, you’d be home now.” Now normally, little bumper stick thoughts, especially spoken to me as wise spiritual advice, enrage me. I listen nicely, while fantasizing about poking a fork into the person’s head, like a baked potato. But whenever I see this bumper sticker, it spritzes me into hope. It reminds me that there is a place in me that is warm and safe and gentle, unlike my usual pinball mind explosion of fear, judgment, doom, blame, and corrective thoughts on how other people should behave better, and a structured plan for how they can begin to do that.
I am sick of my poor crazy mind having to endure the political fever dream.
I am sick of the ice bergs breaking off. Goddamn icebergs. They say God created the world, but duct tape holds it together, so why can’t someone figure out how to duct tape the ice field back together? I don’t want this to be my grandchild’s reality. I object!
I am sick to death of my teeth, of having my Liverpudlian mother’s crummy teeth, that are basically, now, at 63, pretty much like the ice bergs. It would have been so much skin off God’s nose to give me good teeth? I bet Jeff Sessions could pull a cart with his.
I am sick of my dog Bodhi being dead. I am sick of Obama not being president anymore.
I leave for church an hour, hoping to hear the exact right thing, that will neutralize my feelings of doom and disbelief. The exact right things will be the words love and mercy. That energy inside me, that surrounds me and guides me, and pools at my feet, that heart energy of compassion and loving kindness and goodness, that are synonyms for mercy, and synonyms for God. That force of Love that lowers the mental viral load in me, that surrounds me, the viral load of lies and bullying that is spewed out daily by one of our special friends whom I am too polite to name.
(Pope Francisco wrote a book called The Name of God is Mercy–he stole the title from me! While I was sleeping! With a straw inserted through an ear into my brain pan. OK! OK! I can see that this is paranoia on my part. But at least, he thought it up first, the best title ever, which I am still a little bitter about.)
I will hear the word mercy in at least one song, and will remember the dozens of times on my book tour when people in audiences extended mercy to each other, after people in the Q and A’s had expressed grief and terror about what was going on in their lives, and in their nation. People held nearby strangers, and people accepted these hugs. People cried hearing about other people’s troubles–this is what mercy means, a heart for each other’S troubles. People got each other’s email addresses so they could follow up on prayer or simple caring or continuing to listen. People–strangers–bonded over having lost loved ones, over wanting to form writing groups, or wanting to form resistance groups. People SANG together.
I will hear the words hope and mercy today, and I will talk about them with my Sunday School kids. I will talk to them about what living in our hearts means, and how we get there, through taking merciful actions, and horribly, receiving merciful actions from people who love us, or strangers. I will take them outside and have them look up and around and into each other’s, for th and beauty and medicine of nature. I will tell them some sill stories, because like grief, laughter is the way home. And the two most important things for today? We will overeat together; oh the joy. And we will create a wild art project, because creation is home, co-creation with God and children is home, art and creation and newness are where we find hope, and to feel hope again is proof of mercy. One of the kids will make a terrible mess, it is inevitable, and this will make us laugh, which is maybe the exact thing I need to hear today, a few people, all ages and colors, laughing, making friendly messes together.