melodies of mercy

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As I journaled this morning, the word mercy worked its way to the top. And it struck me that mercy and merci might have something in common, which they do etymologically. Gratitude and kindness share the same roots. As I wrote, I thought of Mary Gauthier’s song “Mercy Now,” which has stayed close to me throughout the pandemic.

my church and my country could use a little mercy now
as they sink into a poisoned pit it’s going to take forever to climb out
they carry the weight of the faithful who follow them down
I love my church and country, they could use some mercy now

every living thing could use a little mercy now
only the hand of grace can end the race towards another mushroom cloud
people in power, they’ll do anything to keep their crown
I love life and life itself could use some mercy now

In the mid-eighties, Bruce Cockburn released “Lovers in a Dangerous Time.” I listened to it again this week in the light of all that is going on around us and I heard it in a new light–and then I found this cover by Shawn Colvin that is one of a series of recordings she did from home during the pandemic.

don’t the hours grow shorter as the days go by
you never get to stop and open your eyes
one day you’re waiting for the sky to fall
the next you’re dazzled by the beauty of it all

when you’re lovers in a dangerous time
lovers in a dangerous time

these fragile bodies of touch and taste
this vibrant skin, this hair like lace
spirits open to the thrust of grace
never a breath you can afford to waste

when you’re lovers in a dangerous time
lovers in a dangerous time

It is no secret that Jason Isbell is one of my favorite song writers. “Traveling Alone” is a cut from his first solo record that has taken on new meaning for me in these days when we hunger for connection.

mountains rough this time of year
close the highway down
they don’t warn the town

and I’ve been fighting second gear
for fifteen miles or so
trying to beat the angry snow

and I know every town worth passing through
but what good does knowing do
with no one to show it to

and I’ve grown tired of traveling alone
tired of traveling alone
I’ve grown tired of traveling alone
won’t you ride with me?

Taylor Goldsmith is the lead singer of Dawes and a pretty good songwriter in his own right. Someone who loves me sent a link to his song “Didn’t Fix Me.” It has been on heavy rotation around here.

I went to see a healer
with that mic strapped to his face
talked about which habits to surrender
and which habits to embrace
and for the next few days or so,
I was feeling pretty good
but It didn’t fix me

I even started volunteering
with the local Sacred Heart
we feed the homeless on some weekends
we pick up trash in all the parks
and even though we’re cleaning up
the whole damn neighborhood
it didn’t fix me
it didn’t fix me like I thought it would

I hope these songs offer some mercy for you as well.

Peace,
Milton

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