He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge. ~Psalm 91:4
In the Hebrew Bible, God gives directions to Moses to build a temple. Within the temple, in the most sacred inner room, Moses is instructed to build a “mercy seat” of pure gold and to place it above the ark of the covenant. “There I will meet with you,” promises God.
I am no Bible scholar, so my mind is uncomplicated by specific knowledge about this seat. In my imagination, the mercy seat is the thin place where we encounter the divine (by whatever name we choose). God does not meet with us on the seat of judgment, or the seat of vengeance. There is no separation here, no hatred, no fear. Only mercy, only love.
If I sit on the mercy seat, I will be bathed in the light of divine love, filled with the basic goodness of the universe. My spirit will be purified and mercy will spill over like a golden fountain, flowing wherever I hold judgment and condemnation, washing away everything that is born of fear, imbuing what has been dark with a light so brilliant that nothing is left in shadow.
I have held this image in my heart recently as I have struggled to forgive and release a situation that continues to churn in my spirit. When I feel myself sucked back towards that whirlpool of anger and blame and fear and pain, I picture myself on the mercy seat, opening my soul to the sacred energy of the universe, asking for mercy for myself and for those against whom I harbor thoughts of separation and judgment.
The true gift of grace is that the line between giving and receiving mercy immediately disappears as soon as mercy is asked for or offered. Mercy never flows only one direction, but washes over both the giver and the recipient.
Imagining myself on the golden seat of mercy is humbling. Grace is so exquisite, the limitless generosity of the universe so sublime, that my grievances simply melt away. I am bewildered that I ever thought them important, worthy of my attention and energy. What are they compared to this glorious freedom from what entraps my soul?
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. –Lewis B. Smedes