Thursday, June 7, 2012

Having Mercy Tattooed to Your Soul

RECORD: To learn by heart; to commit to memory, to go over in one's mind

The day I got back from my surgery we had to pick up Isabella from daycare, and when we got home, she saw how I struggled out of the car, and decided that taking my hand was the thing to do. She slowly walked with me up to our porch, kept looking up at me as if to check on me. So small, so new to this world--but she knows what kindness is.

Compassion seems to be both a learned and instinctual thing, I am finding, as I raise my daughter and come to learn a few things about myself.

My ear is always attuned to turn of phrase and etymology, and the verb "record" caught my fancy recently. To record is what I hope to do with my family history, what I have done on a little digital device, what I do each day when Isabella delights me with her innocent glee (and I snap photo after photo). The spiritual meaning is there in the etymology and I have always missed how it connects to mercy, in both English and Portuguese (never mind all the other Romance language takes on it!): the "cor"--the heart of compassion and mercy. In Portuguese it's misericórdia, this sense of feeling one's pain and that of others, of having mercy automatically tattooed onto your soul. Because of my parents, because genetics would deem it so, because I have been surrounded by good and gifted the eye to see good even in the bad, I have this misericórdia. I am suddenly aware of how this is a gift.

As a storyteller, I have spent my life recording, revisiting, reconsidering, repenting, but most importantly learning by heart even as I discover the ways in which compassion is a shared thing. A sacred thing.

This sacred seed God plants in us to be for others a source of love--and we coax it from the ground of our souls, watch it grow, tend to it. The heart of this, to use the cliche, is really the absolute ground zero of who we are, and where we should begin with each new day.

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