James Keenan writes that “mercy is entering the chaos of another.”
On a COVID-19 pandemic flight from Port of Spain to Miami, I witnessed mercy in the action of a mother of two – a toddler in arms and another about four years old. Our seats were next to each other like dominoes on a table.
In their differing ways, Mother Mercy’s children crave for her motherly attention.
Holding and comforting one in her arm, while the other carries out her mischief, and Mother Mercy uses the only available arm to calmly discipline her.
One cries uncontrollably, the other spills a cup of orange juice.
Mother Mercy uses one arm to cuddle, the other to clean up the mess.
One stretches out and grabs the toy of the other, the other fights back, and Mother becomes the referee.
One cries for milk, the other demands food with words. Mother Mercy miraculously feeds both.
One wants to go to the bathroom; Mother Mercy, like a pelican, grabs up both, unwilling to abandon the other alone with strangers.
But Mother Mercy herself wishes to use the bathroom. What must she do? All three cannot squeeze into the tiny airplane bathroom. Mother Mercy decides. She temporarily gives custody of the toddler to a flight attendant and the child cries as if being murdered. But Mother Mercy does what she has to do. In faith, she abandons the children, trusting their care to a stranger.
After several hours of hurricane-like conditions the storm settles. The one in arms settles down to sleep peaceful in Mother Mercy’s arms, and the other occupies her attention with an iPad.
All is peaceful. Chaos has ended. At least for a while.
Mother Mercy is super exhausted. She tries to rest herself while the toddler rests. But, the other intermittently breaks her repose. She calmly attends to her needs and returns to sleep.
Finally, the toddler drifts off to the nether world, deep in sleep. Mother Mercy rests her down on the seat of her sister to finally feed her starving body and prepare for the next dramatic scenes – the landing, disembarking, and the marathon walk to immigration. She prepares milk bottles, and sorts out items in baby bags amongst other things. I feel her exhaustion.
And I feel the children’s energy. On landing, the elder shouts, “We land, we land, we land.” Her voice echoes through the entire plane resonating with the hearts of passengers who laugh and say, “Yes, we land,” accompanied by thunderous applause.
Mother Mercy is either embarrassed or elated. It is hard to say.
Mother Mercy is sincerely merciful. She enters the chaos of two children for four hours. But it’s not just four hours on a flight, it’s for a lifetime.
Bless her heart and the hearts of all mothers, who enter the chaos of their children.