The Story of Mercy: Ann's Challenge
The Story of Mercy
The last of the sun’s rays sparkle upon the water and lead to the lone figure at the water’s edge, as though nature itself wished to spotlight the young woman. Her face is bathed in gold, and worry creases her brow and gives her the appearance of one much older than her seventeen years.
Even though she is young, there is wisdom in that face, a wisdom born from experience. Her childhood was not easy, no walk in the park, giggling over nonsense, whiling away the hours in frivolous pursuits childhood, but rather a childhood of seriousness, of heartbreaks, of loneliness and disappointments.
But she is not bitter. Strangers pass her in the street and marvel at her gentle smile, the way her mouth gives just a hint of amusement, while her eyes embrace those she meets. Hers is a welcoming smile, a glad-to-know you smile, a life-is-better-for-knowing-you smile, and even on the coldest of days she brings warmth to those in her proximity.
Her name is Mercy and this is her story.
Mercy has never known her parents. She was discarded, literally, left on a doorstep at three days of age, screaming for the world to notice, take notice, please God will someone notice. From that doorstep she entered the system, one foster home, two foster homes, thirteen, twenty, shuttled to and fro, always a reason for rejection, too rambunctious, too needy, too ill, too distracted, too sad, too…….
She was a frail child, a brittle little tyke who never met a tree she wouldn’t climb, or an accident that didn’t call her name. Bumps and bruises, breaks and splints, a walking, talking example of all that can go wrong in childhood, and yet she smiled, and her smile was welcomed by the doctors and nurses who treated her, and the supervisors who watched over her, and thousands of others who came in contact with this smiling accident waiting to happen.
Yes indeed, left on a doorstep, a note pinned to her pink flannel pajamas that simply said, “This is my child, Mercy. Please take care of her and love her. She deserves so much more than I can give her.” And the supervisors did their best, hugging her late into the night, kissing away her tears, but in truth, Mercy often was the comforter rather than the comforted, always asking how are you, what can I do for you, what is wrong with you, while smiling that smile that would become her trademark, the smile of Mercy.
As She Grew Older
She heard the whispers when they thought she was not nearby. Poor dear, what are we to do about her, how can such a lovely child be alone this long, what will ever become of her, and she appreciated their concern, but she knew all was well in her heart, that her purpose would be one day known, and she set about showing everyone that a little Mercy could achieve great things.
It became her habit to walk to the beach each evening after dinner. There she could be found, in rain, in snow, and golden sunshine, the waves lapping at her feet, her gaze fixed upon the horizon, a part of the natural order of life she thought, a part of every living being. She felt a million heartbeats inside her chest, the intake of the life-giving source, and there she found the peace that fed her soul.
One night, upon returning to the home, her foster mother asked her if she ever grew tired of being a source of inspiration for others. “Surely,” she said, “you must think of your needs from time to time, and you must want for more than you have.” And Mercy just shook her head, smiled, and responded, “I have been given all I need, thank you. I am here for a reason, and it is not my job to question that reason. There are so many who have had horrible lives, so many who are lacking in the basic elements of life. My name is Mercy, and mercy I shall give.”
And Older Still
And word spread throughout the land, that somewhere, nearby, a most extraordinary child lived, a child named Mercy, a child who looked at all as equals, and gave generously of her time and love. Many considered her to be a myth, for how could there truly be a child of such compassion, while others believed with ever fiber of their being that she did, indeed, exist.
Still others, the lucky ones, actually met Mercy during their daily travels, and without knowing her name upon sighting her, they knew this was the child spoken about. And after meeting her, and sharing in conversation with her, they vowed to lead better lives, lives of dedication, or deeper meaning and purpose.
Sightings continued, and it became common knowledge that Mercy could be found each evening by the water’s edge, gaining strength and understanding from the tides, experiencing the swell of the sea deep within her, and they came to learn of her secrets.
One night a crowd had formed along the beach, awaiting the return of Mercy. When she appeared the murmuring stopped, and all eyes fell upon the golden-haired symbol they had come to believe in. A woman stepped forward and addressed the teen.
“Mercy, teach us so that we may be like you. Tell us what we are lacking so that we will experience the joy you so obviously know.”
And Mercy walked to the center of the crowd and once again smiled. “That which you seek you already have. One cannot give a gift that is already owned. Look within your hearts and you will find it. Now go, go about your lives, and remember the message of Mercy you learned here today.”
And so It Shall Be
Wherever one man helps another, there will be Mercy. Wherever a wrong is righted, a wound healed, and a tear dried, there will be Mercy.
Mercy is in the gentle touch of a nurse and the strong hands of a rescuer. Mercy is in the gentle kiss of a caregiver and the wisdom of a teacher. Mercy costs little and yet is priceless, and wherever Mercy is found, there is love, for one cannot exist without the other.
The last of the sun’s rays sparkle upon the water and lead to the lone figure at the water’s edge, as though nature itself wished to spotlight the young woman. Her face is bathed in gold, and worry creases her brow and gives her the appearance of one much older than her seventeen years. Her concerns are many, for there is still much to do, and she is only one young woman, but then the sky’s blues turn to golds and purples, the sea meets the horizon and becomes one with it, and her concerns are carried off on the wings of a bird.
Author’s note: this story was in response to a challenge issued by my friend Ann. You can find her challenge by following this link. Thank you, Ann, for the inspiration.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)