Misericordia—this word has captured my attention. I first heard it in my daughter’s Monday afternoon Spanish class. The teacher said it is the combination of two words: misery in accord. Thus, it has the meaning of being in accord with misery. The English translation of this word is mercy or compassion.
Honestly, mercy never struck me as something in accord with misery. Sympathetic to suffering, yes. Empathetic, yes. Concern in action, yes. But misery? Misery is not a nice word. Misery. . . well . . . misery is a miserable word. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember hearing anyone ever use that word in an everyday sentence. Is it a word avoided?
I’ve heard suffering used often, especially in Sunday morning prayers. But that seems to have lost its meaning somewhere in all the church jargon. But misery . . . what if misery or miserable replaced all those suffering words? And then how would I be in accord with another’s misery? In accord means being in agreement. Wow! What would it look like for me to agree with someone’s misery. I would have to be in it.
I think I have had a sample of what this might be like. Once, not long ago and while I was walking, I came upon a sick and starving cat. A cat in misery. A miserable cat. It called to me, and its misery entered my soul. I felt pain in the deep places of my being. I cried all the way home. I cried for its misery. I got our animal carrier, and my husband drove me back to get the miserable creature. We took it to the vet where the diagnosis was death. I cried again for its misery and mine. I wanted it to be well. I wanted the vet to heal it. But that was not the outcome. I felt misery in accord with a cat’s misery. And out of that misery came compassionate action—mercy.
Misericordia—in accord with misery—mercy.