I read this book last year called Misericorde, by Cynthia Morgan. It’s part of The Mercy Series (part 2 is out, called Clandestine, and now we impatiently wait for book 3 & 4). I’ve referenced it several times before because it contains this peach: “May we show our thankfulness through kindness and appreciate our blessings through generosity,” and as far as vision statements for life go, it’s terrific.
Last year, the author (who happens to be a good friend) asked me to do what she called a “Reverse Book Review,” where she asked questions, I’d respond, and that interview would become the review. It’s a great idea and of course it is, she’s brilliant.
One of the questions was “Who was your favorite/least favorite character and why?” I answered: “My least favorite is easy: Sauvage. In a space that is forgetting any resemblance of gentleness or care, his absolute lack of humanity is repulsive. My favorite has been Chevalier or Levesque for the same reason. As I raged at their apathy and unwillingness to DO SOMETHING, I knew why they didn’t (or couldn’t.) They did for the same reason we stand idly by while the least of us are utterly taken advantage of and great violence is inflicted. Morgan couldn’t have known the specific political/social landscape when she wrote it, but this story is perfect for us, now. I guess it’s perfect for any time, because we are too often Chevalier or Levesque and not enough Tzadkiel and Lourdes. (As it turns out, why I love them is that they DID finally DO SOMETHING and I am proud of them, and it gives me hope for us, for me.)”
You don’t need to know who Tzadkiel or Levesque or Sauvage are to know who they are, right? They are you & me. Sometimes we are the wounded, sometimes we’re the one who delivers the pain, and perhaps most disturbingly, sometimes we are those that stand on the sidewalk while the damage is done. When my often-overwhelming passivity pulls the strings on my decision making process, it leaves me crushed and discouraged. Why didn’t I just (whatever)? Why couldn’t I have just…?
And I know why here, too.
Once when I was in college, I witnessed a guy hit the woman he was with with a bottle outside of a hotel dance club. My friends were in the bathroom and I was watching the whole thing happen from the window. Sick and outraged, I waited for the guy to leave and my friends to come back, then we ran outside like heroes. Only I knew I wasn’t.
25 years ago and this still haunts me. Of course it does, how can it not? I can see him do it and I can see her face. I sure hope she didn’t then get in his car, but I’m pretty sure she did.
It’s interesting what will shape each of us into the collage that we are at any point on the timeline. Or, in this case, the mosaic that I am now. Watching such a despicable happen and choosing to bend to my fear broke me forever in ways I couldn’t understand through that hotel window. But it’s the repair, isn’t it? The beauty of a mosaic lies in the reorganization of the cracked and broken pieces.
I used to ask, anytime kindness, civility or common sense broke down, “how can they do that???” I don’t ask that anymore. I know, I know. I understand Chevalier and Levesque because they are a mirror of what we can become and an invitation to become something more of what we were created to be. I wrote that I was proud of them, that they gave me hope. And I guess what I really meant was if their story wasn’t over, mine isn’t either.