In the summer of 1973 I had my first abortion. My doctor told me I was pregnant with twins and that an early, DNC-type abortion would cure that condition. I cannot remember how my boyfriend and I arrived at the decision to terminate my pregnancy, but I was a lost, impressionable, young woman, addicted to alcohol and an abusive boyfriend. I did not know I had a choice. We were living in the heart of darkness, and, as is typical of the chain of maladies that tend to rule the activities of the realm of darkness, the early abortion left me yet pregnant and my doctor encouraged a later and difficult abortion. This memory chills me even now. I want to reach into this story and say to myself as a young girl, “No! You can say no! Just walk out of there!” But, I was effectively alone, and I said yes to a destructive event that would haunt me for nearly forty years.
But life is not only darkness and sometimes moving into the light is as simple as making a choice. Over the years, I found addiction recovery in twelve step programs and therapy and my life began to blossom. Even so, a secret grieving held me captive and it expressed itself most readily in thoughts of guilt and self-recrimination that weighed on me and would often shake me to the core. And then one quiet September day in the Bronx, I began an amazing journey into Mercy.
At first “mercy” was just a word, an idea, which in my mind vaguely was synonymous with compassion and forgiveness. I heard it in the prayers and blessings at the Gatherings I attended. But, I heard it constantly. Every piece of writing from Lumina echoed the word Mercy. Over the years, without my knowing it, the word Mercy became for me a kind of mantra, something to hold onto in the dark. It began to work on me without my knowing it.
In the past three years when I have needed to travel often — alone and long distances — to care for my mother and father in their last days, I unexpectedly found Mercy while waiting in airports and hospital waiting rooms. Absently checking emails, I would be relieved to see emails from Lumina, which, of course, always confirmed the gift of Mercy.
Unbelievably, and slowly at first, I began to accept and to use Mercy as a tangible and practical tool in my emotional life. Sometimes when I find myself overtired or frustrated, fearful or angry, I am tempted to turn against myself and into negative thinking. But, the word Mercy rises from my unconscious like a dream and stops me in my tracks. I am learning to say, “No, I am not going down a path of negative thinking, I am learning Mercy now, and I choose the way of Mercy.”
I say I am learning Mercy, because it is a process and a journey into the kind of deep love and forgiveness of myself — and others — that I can only begin to grasp. From my beginning, almost neutral experience with Mercy as a simple word, it has evolved in my life experience as a tangible and effective tool, an action verb that I have learned can more quickly than I ever imagined, bring a swift conclusion to the obsessive dark voice that would grind my spirit with self-recrimination and unbelief. Be gone Satan!
Mercy is a way of life, and it is life changing. Now whenever darkness calls, I choose Mercy and life.
~ Mary Ellen Hancock