Mercy – The Salve of Motherhood

Thanks to The Virtues Project.

Thanks to The Virtues Project.

The first time I read this Virtues Card, two sentences jolted my attention:

“Justice is giving people what they deserve. Mercy is giving them more.”

It’s tough conjuring Justice when I’m dealt a personal blow.  Or when I learn of some heinous crime.  Then I remember that small sentence.  How on earth do I get to Justice, never mind trumping it up to Mercy?

So, where do I find an example?  A natural, default, straight-from-the-heart example of pure Mercy?

To Moms.


I observe one whose child, of whatever age, has committed an error or offense.  The size of the crime doesn’t matter.

While mothers know justice, they practice mercy.  It’s as natural as the skin protecting those loving hearts and Divine souls.

What a wash of relief to be the recipient of such love.

Happy Mothers Day

to all the “Mercy Mongering Mothers” in my life. 

Thank you for your example. 

Don’t give up teaching us.


37 thoughts on “Mercy – The Salve of Motherhood

  1. It is so cool to see this quote from the Virtues Project. When I worked at a residential family treatment centre, I was fortunate to participate in a Virtues workshop put on by the authors of the program. Lovely to come upon them again here.

    • So, Sherry…you met Linda? And Dan, most likely. I worked for Linda at The Virtues Project as Communications Director for a period of time until she had to curtail her travels due to health. I LOVED my time there.

      It’s a remarkable program. I love how children, especially, respond.

    • Hi Celi. You get to really celebrate Mother’s Day – many fold – because of all the raising, rearing, training and loving you give to the 4 legged chil’ns. A big hug to you. I respect you so very much.

    • You bet, Charles. I had to go to my mother with a confession when I was 45 years old and she adamantly pointed out how it wasn’t my doing. Whether she had her facts straight or not, I loved her even more.

  2. You are so right about mothers – most mothers at least. They do practise unconditional mercy. Justice is important, but mercy brings humanity into the social equation.

    • Granny, you are one of those people who could celebrate Mother’s Day from so many different angles. May you feel the love and appreciation of all “angles”. Please send me the addresses of those who do not thank you! 😀

  3. I went wandering through the Virtues project the first time you posted about it. I adored it….and still do. Especially given that virtuous thinking is something I really REALLY wanna possess. Stupid brain……*sigh*
    I hope you had a lovely day of it.
    I put flowers into dirt and collapsed in a heap…and stayed there. LOL Oh, but I have tulips in the house and flowers on the patio!! So it’s all good.

    • So, Mel, when you collapsed in a heap, I hope it was inside – with your cell phone nearby. I know, you don’t need another nag! But I also know that you are known to stretch beyond the normal range for one recuperating. Plus you think you can do anything just ’cause you are alone right now. Himself will have his spies reporting, remember. The results may lack in Virtuous text! 😀

  4. What a beautiful post! I agree completely with the lovely quote, and your comments…I don’t have so much difficulty giving mercy in my own life, but I must admit, most of the “offenses” against me are of the small stuff category.
    I have sometimes wondered if I could be merciful, even in attitude, to someone who had hurt me in a grievous way…I think about this when I see the terrible things such as bombings or shootings…don’t know how to sort out that level of evil, but I do know that we all need mercy. Blessings to you! ~ Sheila

    • Thank you, Priya – my thoughts have wandered your way throughout the recent celebration of motherhood. Hope your life continues to be full of blessings. (p.s. what a gorgeous gravatar – you are so very beautiful!)

  5. Amy, what an excellent, thought-provoking post! On my best days, I can find forgiveness by remembering that most people don’t begin any action with the intention to do harm. Most people don’t. If harm is done, it is unintentional, so it is forgivable. But only when it is unintentional. The sticky part is the intention…

    • I certainly agree, Lorna. When things feel like they’ve been done with intent, it’s a double whammy. It’s maliciousness AND betrayal.

      With forgiveness, I remember that I can loathe what they’ve done, but still accept the person. I may not like them for a period of time – or again. I may decide to keep my distance. However, since I really dislike carrying and drinking from the proverbial cup of poison, this is a way for me to set the cup down and stop drinking from it.

      When I suspect something has been done intentionally, first I play the martial arts card. I don’t make any attempt to block, stop or defend. You know what happens to a person who is attacks and finds only air. After a number of retaliation scenarios race through my mind, I finally get to my “investigation prior to contempt” theme and remember my perceptions may be out of whack. When I talk to the person, I’m usually amazed at how wonky my perceptions were. Does it matter whether the person is telling the truth? I think not. Imagine having to lie to a person who has conjured enough courage to ask. I don’t have to judge. They have to live with themselves.

  6. A beautiful post, thank you, a wonderful reminder. I hope you had a great day on Sunday, hope you are feeling better. I was having a good day until 6:30, when I received a call that a good friend who had been golfing in front of me with her husband, lost him to a heart attack. A good lesson to always extend mercy to those we meet, who knows when we will see them again.

  7. I don’t know the Virtues project – thank you for sharing the card with us.
    What a great thought provoking quote.
    “Justice is giving people what they deserve. Mercy is giving them more.”
    I’m not sure whether I gave justice or mercy to my children…

    • Moms can be so hard on themselves. Even when we have to set boundaries, we can be doing it with love. When love gets in there, surely mercy can’t help but be there, too. I suspect you’ve always had plenty of love to dish out to your family. My first clue is how you’ve expressed yourself about your mom. 🙂

  8. A great post, Amy.

    Yes, it is mothers who intuitively tightrope walk with their child, keeping a fine balance between Justice and Mercy. But have we wondered why is it so. To me this quality emanates from a space of selfless love. A space in which the mother expects nothing in return. Her acknowledgement lies in the child’s moral growth and worldly success.How many of us can wear the “mother mantle” when the situation demands?

    I know of one person who took the aspect of Justice into the higher realms of Mercy.That was Mahatma Gandhi through his instrument of non-violence. Gandhi used to say, ” If someone slaps you on one cheek, do turn the other cheek towards him.” To him, Justice had more to do with supporting the perpetrator to placate the turbulence within.


    • You add so much to the comments, Shakti. Thank you. Great question about wearing the “mother mantle”. I wonder if anyone in my life could claim being the recipient of my Mercy. I’ve had opportunities after feeling betrayed, but did I only work on forgiveness? Bet I did – thinking forgiveness was enough.

      If I were enlightened, I wouldn’t think about forgiveness. It wouldn’t be necessary because I would feel no slight or smudge. I could support the perpetrator. Imagine having even a modicum of Mahatma Gandhi’s wisdom. Who is keeping his legacies and love alive? Just us ordinary people – but only on rare occasions? Anyone in power?

      It’s quite a job being human! I often wonder why people need extreme sports to feel challenged. 🙂

  9. What a lovely , apt example. Whenever people talk and write of the death penalty for heinous crimes..the mother is who comes to mind. Yes, no mother who wants her child to learn of righteousness would want that he or she never get an opportunity to contemplate and learn and understand that one has to come face to face with the consequences of one’s misdeeds. But only that they correct themselves and then she would still the child close to her heart …with mercy.

    • Thank you, Nadira, for your visit and comment. You Hopefully as many as possible are able to learn justice and live mercy, thanks to a loving mother’s example.

      Now, on another matter entirely…I have not been receiving notices of people’s new postings. I’ve been using the “reader” approach and have done an inadequate job keeping up with everyone. I’m off to visit you, Nadira. You always “feed” me. Blessings.

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