I have been listening to Brooke Thomas steadily for over two years. It started when I was back in massage school and I found her first podcast, Liberated Body. I felt like I had stumbled onto Willy Wonka’s Factory. So much information! So many bodyworkers talking about their beliefs and practices! So much brain candy!
I was not the only one to fall in love with Brooke. My boyfriend at the time, also a bodyworker, was the one who had introduced me to the show, and he was also the one who said something along the lines of “I wish she were my girlfriend.”
Part in jest, I wrote to Brooke and told her that I loved her show even though my boyfriend seemed to like her more than he liked me. She wrote a sweet note back, and since I had a personal note from Brooke and my boyfriend didn’t (at least to my knowledge), I felt she was more mine that his.
As you can guess, my relationship with that guy did not last long, but my relationship with Brooke is smoking hot. She has no idea about this, no idea that I followed her through the ending of Liberated Body to her new endeavor with fellow-healer Vanessa Scotto to their podcast Bliss and Grit. I learn a lot listening to these two women talk about bodywork, mindfulness, and the small topic of what it is like to have a body and brain in the world in which we live.
All of this is to get you to this morning when I was out walking listening to the Bliss and Grit episodes Over-Identifying with the Body and The Spiritual Path is not a Benzo. At some point, Brooke said, “You can ask for mercy and mercy comes.” I stopped at the beauty and grace of the line, and I asked Siri to take a note, repeating Brooke’s line. What I got was “You can ask for mercy and Rico.”
I guess if enlightenment were a clear-cut road, we’d all be omming in bliss, but when you do things like ask for mercy and Rico, the universe doesn’t know what to do and no one but the tax collector, perhaps, arrives at your door, and you throw up your arms and lose faith. You had asked why mercy hadn't showed. Maybe it was because Rico was in the shower. Maybe it was because Siri hadn’t finished the thought—you can ask for Mercy and Rico, but then what?
What is it that you want, anyway?
What happens if you make your request really, really clear: Mercy. Please. Mercy, come. Do you avoid clarity of request because you are afraid you’ll be ignored, afraid you’ll be heard? What happens if mercy arrives?
What is Mercy, anyway? If you google it you get this definition: The compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
Oh, good lord. Suddenly I feel like a firehose, filled with the power to punish or harm anyone around me. I am aware, also, that I can turn this spray upon myself.
You can ask for mercy and mercy comes.
I’ve said this many times to myself today, and each time my eyes startle with tears.
What if all I have to do is ask? What if it goes back to the Mary Oliver poem “Wild Geese”?
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
over the mountains and rivers.
Meanwhile, the wild geese, high in the clean blue
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
What if mercy is a way of announcing your place in the family of things? What if mercy is a way of claiming both the self and others in the soft cave of the heart?