Grace is what we receive that we do not deserve while mercy is what we do not get that we do deserve. – Jack Wellman
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. ~ Matthew 5:7
September is spider season, rather spider mating season. If you’ve had a wet spring and a mild summer, there are bound to be a bunch of spiders in your house, at your door, in your garden. The top Google posts on “spider season” are from the United, well not so united thanks to Brexit, Kingdom. We may think the British are a stoic lot but not when it comes to spiders. The Brits are just like us, a bunch of arachnophobes, folks scared silly by the critters.
“Squash ‘em dead” used to be my cry. It didn’t matter that the spider was the size of a poppy seed, a pea or a nickel. “Squash ‘em dead!” Their webs were full of desiccated insects, their juices the spider’s evening cocktail. The eight-legged critters killed butterflies. Brown recluse and black widows could kill humans, namely my family. Kill or be killed. “Squash ‘em dead.”
Now, I tend to leave them alone and not freak. My three year old granddaughter loves the song “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” I appreciate spiders for doing a great job of trapping mosquitos before they enter our house. I’m one of those people who leaves the spider webs up through Halloween (hey, I don’t have to decorate.) I take pictures of dew on the webs. You know those pictures that look like diamonds hanging on a thread.
So what changed?
Age, experience, reading Charlotte’s Web to another generation? Yes, but mostly taking the ancient Christian prayer, Kyrie Eleison, to heart. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.
I can’t remember when this shortest of petitions became my mantra for prayer, in meditation, when there are no other words. It’s a prayer that comes from my mouth without thinking when a horrible disaster or attack unfolds. It’s my meditation when I’m anxious. It’s my prayer when I’m settling down into deeper communication with God.
It’s not so much a non-thinking prayer as much as an always thinking prayer because I am always a sinner in need of mercy, begging God to not give me what I deserve. When I am short with someone and they just smile and treat me like a nice person. When I’m less than understanding of someone else’s faults and they are patient with my own. When I’ve done a list of things that should follow me to the Pearly Gates and, instead of living a life of doom and woe, I am grateful I’ve been forgiven by our Lord, Jesus Christ and rest in that knowledge. Big or little, we all face times when we pray we don’t get what we deserve and then, well, don’t!
Spiders just go about living their lives, eating bugs, scaring the heck out of many people and maybe they deserve their reputation. But they are like us, aren’t they? Deserving of our reputation but God gives us grace and mercy on a regular basis. And if God can do that for me, if I can do that for a person who wrongs me, then granting mercy to an eight legged bug is pretty easy.
Is there a time you have been given mercy or given it to someone (or some THING!)?