August 25, 2010


I watched you.
You wretched one.

I followed you as you scattered flowers through the air.
Who can do nothing at all.

You slowed down and held my hand as we walked together.
Do not forget to be merciful!

Be merciful to us more fortunate ones!
I let myself be next to you. You call it acceptance, I call it home.

I’ve been toying around with this quote (the italicized part) from Kierkegaard, with me as the wretched one, who can do nothing at all. I wonder if shame and pride are the same thing: attention-seeking and unredeemed. Holding on to your broken self.

Perhaps mercy is belonging where you are. It's not quite the same as the unloved, poor, and lonely letting themselves be helped, letting the strong slow down. I think that acceptance of compassion can only really happen when we are able to stand without shame. People are only able to encourage when they aren't my savior.

I'm still not yet completely sure. Does that make times when I'm sad or lonely untrue?


Michael said...

I see what you mean about "belonging where you are", and accepting compassion only when you're able to stand without shame. But . . . perhaps it is not quite so straight-forward. Even in being helpless, being sad or lonely we can be merciful in accepting compassion. If we abstract things too much it appears as if we can only accept compassion when we don't need it! But . . . I don't think that can be true. People can and have helped me when I have been sad and lonely. If we lived in a world of perfect squares, so to speak, then we could not accept compassion rightly unless we were able to stand without shame. But I know . . . experientially that God has people help us even in our pride and shame. The world is lopsided, for now.

I hope this makes sense, I've thought about it very hard.

Echoes in Ink said...

"Mercy is seeing more truly."
Lives are dueling sights - I
see first you, then your doppelganger
Mercy is uniting the beautiful
And then the ugly
A truly merciful person doesn't slow.
Mercy reaches a hand so you can keep up
[Carrying you]

Perhaps our acceptance of compassion, true acceptance, unmarried by shame [holiness] can exist only when God moves us to humility - but isn't that where struggle brings us anyway - and I think one can be merciful with no thought of the others' receiving it - whether proud or fallen - and that can make all the difference.

We want to be loved. We need to be held by the hand.

God is so good.

Statue of Clay said...

I wonder if shame and pride are the same thing:

I think I agree, John Piper speaks of this in a few of his books.

A friend of mine once told me "shame is of the Devil,conviction is from the Lord"

Art said...


I seem to need to learn the same lessons over and over again. I think I believe that we should be both dependent and independent of people. All that said, I don't think I'm just flip-flopping when I say I think you're right, Michael, and it does make sense. I think I wrote the post from the perspective of writing blog posts, not brokenly asking for help from someone close to me.

Catey! I like this poem, and the thought... What I'm getting from your ambiguity is something like, for the wretched one to be merciful can be a state of heart, whether or not the one reaching out to help is aware of it. Maybe that is part of what you were saying.

Thought: instead of only valuing the place where I'm humbled and find my home, I should realize that I still need to go through the times when I am helpless. Maybe mercy is worked through the entire process.

That's a good quote, Joseph.