Heart of Mercy, House of Light

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope. ~ Winston Churchill

A work commitment on this day took me, and several of my colleagues, on a road trip to Misericordia University, in northeastern Pennsylvania. It was just short of two and a half hours' drive each way.

I saw a side of dawn I don't get to see too often; by 6:30 am, the six of us were tucked into a van and on our way, heading northeast into the rising sun. We had a good day's program, as well as plenty of laughs and silliness among our group on the way there and back. 

During the lunch hour, there was enough unstructured time that I was able to grab my camera and head outside for 15 minutes. I had never visited Misericordia University before, and they have a gorgeous, green campus. The library, where our program was held, is conveniently located right in the middle of everything.

Someone had mentioned that there was a little chapel nearby, and so I went in search of it. ("Just go up the steps to the first floor of Mercy Hall, all the way to the end, and at the great big statue of Jesus, turn right," the helpful librarian said.)

And what a beautiful little chapel it was, very airy and spacious and full of light, and with gorgeous statues at the four corners of the room. A notice posted near the main entrance included a schedule of masses, and apparently there is one over every other day's noon hour, but not today. So I had the space to myself.

I heartily enjoy lovely architecture and beautiful spaces, and of course, I am a lover of light from way back. And I had a thing or two to bring to the attention of the big JC, so I was in the right place.

There is one I love who is suffering, and I cannot bear to see it. I cannot and will not say much more, except to add that - you know that quote from A River Runs Through It, about how we are willing to help, but how can we tell what, if anything, is needed? And about how we can seldom help those closest to us; but we can love completely without complete understanding - it's one of those situations.

It was a heavy burden. And so I laid it all at Our Lord's feet. And then I took some pictures. (Everyone worships in their own way; somehow I find my hands make the best praise with the help of my camera. And no, it doesn't have to be in a cathedral to count. But churches are beautiful too, and well worth visiting.)

I was not familiar with the history of Misericordia University, but here are some pertinent bits, courtesy of Wikipedia:

The Religious Sisters of Mercy were of the order of Mercy founded in Dublin in 1831. The Sisters vowed to be of service to the impoverished, sick and uneducated. The Sisters of Mercy came to the Wyoming Valley area of Pennsylvania in 1875, continuing their mission of praying, teaching and caring for the sick. The sisters established a school for children and a night school for adults in the coal mining region.

On August 15, 1924, the Sisters of Mercy established Luzerne County’s first four-year institution of higher learning, Misericordia, on nearly 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land in Dallas, Pennsylvania, purchased by the Sisters for this purpose in 1914.

More than 2,500 people witnessed the dedication of Misericordia (whose name means “heart of mercy”). That September, 37 students began their studies.

I have also learned that every year in September, there is a celebration of the founding of the school called Mercy Week. I like the sound of that, and I believe the world could do with a whole lot more mercy. So I love the idea, and I think maybe we should all declare a Mercy Week once in a great while. Or maybe even more often than that . . .

The song to accompany this image is one I know I've used once before, but I think it's perfect for this space, especially given the fact that this charming little chapel is located in a building called Mercy Hall. So here it is: the official Mercy Street video, by Peter Gabriel.

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