Michelle Martin

Have mercy

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The leaves are changing colors and the weather is turning cool. We already have Teresa’s Halloween costume. It’s a princess, and I’m pretty sure she picked on the basis of the long blonde wig.

She’s been asking to buy pumpkins to carve for about two weeks. I keep telling her that if we bought them now, they’d spoil before Halloween.

School’s going well for everybody, although it still feels strange not having Caroline home all the time.

Frank’s playing hockey and running cross country this fall. That means most weeks, he goes from a hockey practice that ends at 10:45 p.m. on Thursday to a cross country practice that starts at 6:40 a.m. Friday. There are days I’m not sure how he’s still standing. But cross country is almost over.

Um. Let’s see. Tony’s birthday is coming up, and I’m not sure what to get him. The dog is shedding a lot.

You get the feeling I’m trying to talk around something? Me too.

But it feels like that a lot, as we’ve been trying not to talk too much about recent issues in the presidential campaign, at least not in front of Teresa. I pride myself on answering my kids’ questions honestly, in an age and developmentally appropriate way, to the best of my ability. Is it chickening out to say that, even so, there are some questions I’d rather they don’t ask? At least not when they’re 6?

Some of the subject matter is just as uncomfortable to discuss with a teenage boy, but there I feel a responsibility to make sure he knows that some behavior, some kinds of talk, are unacceptable, no matter the environment, no matter who’s doing the talking. In his defense, he seemed incredulous and maybe a bit offended that I thought I had to say it. And almost as embarrassed as I was.

This election season has been rife with teachable moments.

At least the election season is almost over. Chicago will have a new cardinal in November. We need to turn our attention to helping people whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew, in the southeastern United States and in Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean. We need to pray and take concrete action to help the people of Syria.

We will soon conclude the Jubilee of Mercy. What have we done since last December to accept and welcome God’s mercy in our lives and to share it with our neighbors? How are we doing at feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, instructing the ignorant? Are we bearing wrongs patiently? Have we admonished sinners? Comforted the sorrowful?

Maybe we don’t have to wait until after Election Day to think about the important things. Maybe we should have been thinking about them all along.