Recently my husband and I were talking about highs and lows and how often they coexist. Specifically, I was thinking back to this past summer when we had so many big life changes all in a very short period of time. It really was one of the most difficult periods in our marriage and in my life, but when I look back on it now, what is clearest in my memory are the small moments of love and mercy that sustained us.
Right before our house went on the market we were in a frenzy to get everything ready, but my “frenzy” moved at the pace of a woman waddling her way through the third trimester of pregnancy. I’d resigned myself to putting my head down and just powering through all the physical and emotional work of the move, and was having a hard time asking for help because the work was so menial and honestly, I was terrible company. I was sad and overwhelmed and my house – physical and spiritual – was messy. In the midst of that, God offered me his mercy in the form of my friend Tessa.
Tessa and I had been talking at our weekly library story-time date about all the preparations for the move, and I’d let it slip that I was procrastinating on the yard work because of how much I disliked it. She offered to help, but I first turned her down. “You don’t want to come over and pull weeds!”
“Actually,” she said, “I do.” And she did. She showed up the next morning and we went to work, pulling weeds, raking leaves, and spreading mulch. And do you know what? Time flew. The kids were playing peacefully together in the yard and we had such wonderful – uninterrupted – conversation! This thing that I’d been dreading suddenly was sweet and was a consolation I carried in my heart those next few weeks and months.
It reminds me of the closing prayer for the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Do you know it? The whole thing really is quite powerful, but the last phrase particularly has always stood out to me:
“…increase your mercy in us that in difficult moments we might not despair or become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy Will, which is Love and Mercy itself.”
That morning, Love and Mercy was offered in Tessa.
“Accompaniment” is a word we hear often, usually in the context of parish ministries and evangelization, sometimes casually or vaguely. For me, the word is embodied in a friend who offered herself sincerely and knelt beside me in the dirt so I wouldn’t have to do it alone. It makes sense to me in a more authentic way how accompaniment and evangelization are so closely connected. It is easier to experience God’s Love and Mercy when they are right next to you, doing the hard work with you.
The fruit of that prayer – God’s Mercy and Love increased in me – might look like turning away from despondency and accepting love and mercy when it’s offered. But it also manifests itself in the nudge of the Spirit to notice the needs of others around me and offer what I can, even if it’s just myself.
Copyright 2019 Megan Swaim