Lent Series

Listening as an Act of Mercy and Love


Monday, March 15, 2021

Listening as an Act of Mercy and Love

by Robbin BrentMercy is the absolutely indispensable lintel over which you step into the heart of God. —Cynthia Bourgeault

This week we will focus on the theme of listening as an act of mercy and love. My initial understanding of mercy was that it was some-thing God, or others, bestowed on me, feeling sorry for me or in some ways pitying me, and deciding to give me another chance. Mercy was something I was lucky to get. While my understanding of mercy has matured, it wasn’t until my teacher, Cynthia Bourgeault, unpacked mercy at a Wisdom School that something cracked wide open in my being.

In a teaching on the Divine Exchange, Cynthia referred to Helen Luke’s contributions to exchange in Helen’s book, Old Age. She shared that Helen understood mercy as a holy act of exchange, something of value both given and received. This, based on the root for the word “mercy” being merc, the root also forming the words commerce and merchant, words that at one point were associated with respect and dignity, although less so now. Helen goes on to trace the deeper root of the word “exchange,”—connected with the French merci, with “grateful response and kindness of heart,” and finally to compassion and forgiveness, where we are able to open ourselves to the Mercy that frees all faults, which is the ultimate exchange.”

This idea of mercy being an exchange that “frees all faults” relates beauti-fully to what Heidi Kim wrote yesterday, “may we remember to listen for God’s mercy and grace.” That God listens to the innermost longings and struggles we express through our prayers, both spoken and silent, and responds with renewing, hopeful, and redemptive mercy, grace, and love.

Making It Personal: What is your current understanding of mercy? Do you see how listening can be an act of mercy? Of love? In a prayer, or perhaps in something you write, what words might you use to convey your desire to join your heart with God’s heart?

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