Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mercy in Broken Glasses

Several nights ago, at the cafe, a small child broke his glass of lemonade. It was a seemingly inconsequential event. Back in the kitchen we seem to break a couple of glasses each week.

After the child and his family were done with their meal, they approached me. The mother's hand was on the boy's shoulder and he looked down as he said something to me. I could tell it was a question, I just couldn't understand it.
"Just a minute." I said, and went to get someone to translate.
Gloria, an Ecuadorian worker with no English came to see if she could help.
When the boy repeated her question, Gloria got down on her knees and held the boy's face in her hand. She said something very rapidly, the only part I could understand was a very gentle, yet consistent, "No, No, No."

Someone else informed me that the boy had been made by his mother to ask us to whip him in payment for the broken glass.

What he had said to me was, "Please will you whip me?"

I am sure you can tell where this illustration is going.
As humans, we want payment to be made for our mistakes. Big one and little ones. It doesn't matter if it is spilled milk or hurt feelings, we believe firmly in consequences. Our justice systems are built on it, our family lives are structured around it.

And yet God- the very epitome of Justice offers us another solution to our mistakes. Gloria (in a beautiful display of Ecuadorian Christ-likeness) reminded me of what mercy should look like. Gentle, and not condemning. The broken glass still had to paid for. El Sendero will eat the cost (as it has both the times I broke a glass). The cleanup still had to be done. We pulled out a mop and a broom and double swept to make sure that someone else didn't get hurt by the mistake.

But, the bottom line is, that this little boy did not need to be whipped, nor did he do the cleanup, nor did he pay for the broken glass. Instead he was met with loving kindness, His face was held gently by a woman who had one time also received great mercy.

And I was reminded that I don't need to be constantly "whipping" myself over my mistakes. That I serve a God who is merciful and who has already paid the price.

Psalm 116:1 I love the Lord because He has heard my appeal for mercy.


Tara said...

Poor child! :( That makes me so sad that he had to ask that.

Patty said...

Well said