Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mercy Without Condescension

My friend Stephen Berg over at Grow Mercy asks, "What does mercy look like when it finally arrives without condescension?"

"Compassion is 'suffering with.' It is an immediate participation
 in the suffering of another to such a degree that you forget yourself
 and your own safety and spontaneously do what is necessary."
~ Joseph Campbell (Historian)

I have intentionally "helped" the homeless at least four times in the past year. Not a stellar record but a start. I examine my heart and mind each time I do this. I make small steps, because that is better than no steps.

I hand a gift card to the man on the corner. I offer a listening ear to the needle-marked, wild-eyed woman at Starbucks. I bring my Life Group to prepare a meal for clients of Inn From the Cold. We meet, serve and eat with them. 

I hear their stories, I look into their eyes. I seek to understand.

I stretch past my white, middle-class inhibitions, thanks in part to people like Stephen who have been in the trenches and give a more informed framework to my worldview.

But some stories are complicated. As is mine. I want to grow in stature and understanding and mercy.

Where There is Need
There, by the grace of God, I will be
Let judgment cease, let Christ increase
in me, may His kingdom come
may His will be done
on earth, today
in me
belay heaven

Related links:
Momma Said There'd Be Days Like This  "It's a long story," she said, and offered no more. I still cried.
Coffee Rations  Who drove his retreat to that corner? A poem.
This Too Shall Pass  Depression, homelessness and a crumpled snapshot of my life


  1. Is mercy WITH condescension truly mercy?

  2. Food for thought, Colleen, thanks for posting.

  3. Thank you for this post Joyce...for your honesty, kindness and compassion.

  4. Many hard years it has been in learning to practice these things, Stephen. Thank you.