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“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.” ~Abraham Lincoln

Greek: Entugchano–“To light upon, by chance; to meet accidentally.”

Hebrew: Paga–“To intercede; light upon.”

And that, quite simply, explains it all–how we came to this Tuesday ritual of ours. It was quite by accident.

By chance.

I wish I’d been around to comfort you when a homegrown terrorist took the life of your sister. When your marriage ended.  When your mother passed away.  When you were a little boy whose sweet world crumbled.  As life would have it, many years and countless sorrows would pass before the timing was right.

God knew what He was doing.

I often wonder if I kind of missed it. So many times I passed you by on my way out of work in the wee hours of the morning– the end of my workday, the beginning of yours. I would have recognized you anywhere but we wouldn’t have had any reason to talk. That is…until I became a merchandiser for The Soda Mafia. You worked just across the way merchandising for The Chip Mafia.

You were ornery from the get-go. I crave orneriness the way most people crave…well…soda. I thrive on the stuff. You wasted no time growing my skin thicker with your own brand.

God definitely knew what He was doing.

Beneath your ornery surface was a measure of mercy like none I’ve never known before. You call yourself simple but to me, you are simply merciful.

Greek: Eleos–“Oil; soothing agent for wounds.”

Hebrew: Hesed–“Steadfast love.”

It is both mysterious and miraculous how wounded souls find one another. It is nothing but miraculous that our wounds happen to align in a symmetry of near perfection.

Yours is a wisdom born of great suffering. You are a courageous Intercessor–one capable of changing even the mind of the Most High. History reveals that it was only an Intercessor that could change God’s mind. You are a courageous Watchman. In the Old Testament, the Watchman at the wall performed the job of an Intercessor. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that your very name means Protector. Yours is a walk that combines both the priestly and the prophetic.

Some of the simplest advice you’ve given has proven to be profound:

~God gave you two ears and one mouth so you could listen twice as much as you speak. 

~Be careful who you trust with the things you confide in God.  You can’t ask Just Anyone to pray.  

~It’s only chips and dip. (Your version of “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”) 

I wish I’d had those words–had you–long ago, but in the words of another wise soul (not nearly as wise as yourself) better late than never.

I still have those precious messages written in your hand, left for me to find on boxes at work. I sliced around them with a box knife so I could keep them forever. I display them in the laundry room, propped like art among the Tide and the Downy. When I step into my kitchen, I see the words “A friend knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” I don’t know who that quote belongs to but I’ve got one for you that I found through another kind soul who loves healing words.

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” ~George Eliot

Sometimes other people’s words say the things I feel best.

Let me take this time to give you my own simple words.

Thank you.

You are so dear to me.

Thank you for taking upon yourself my own tears of grief in those times when you know that I need to be a rock.

Thank you for Tuesdays.

On those days when I wake, I pull back the curtain to look out on that fresh batch of mercy I find in the sunlight of every new morning and I say to my Creator, thank you for this day.

I pass through The Gates.

I walk ever so cautiously into the kitchen (because my muscles are so darn sore), straight to the coffee pot, grab Breezy’s ipod, and head back again to my room. I scroll to Kutless…click on “Take Me In”. I close my eyes and let the words wash over my sleepy brain cells.

I enter into The Courts.

I quietly sing along. Incense ignites. A fragrant cloud fills the room.

The Brazen Alter quickly becomes hindsight.

Tears fill my eyes. This thing, I cannot help. It happens every time.  I feel it coming.

 The Cloud of Glory descends…

…and I know you’ve come alongside me on this journey. You’ve torn through a veil of flesh, entered into the realm of Spirit, sprinted toward that beautiful place we always set out to find.

How sweet it is to reach our final destination.

Without fail.

The Mercy Seat.

Amen.

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