For the record, it doesn't involve *playing* Mercy and crushing your opponent's fingers in a death grip, although that can be pretty fun.
To me, moments of mercy are those times that transcend the current situation to transport you to another state. Moments out of time. Moments of zen. Moments when no matter how bad or weird things are, the world seems to stop, sometimes just for a second, and you realize how very amazing consciousness can be.
It's not nearly as fancy as it sounds, though.
I had one today while curled up in bed with my family, watching the last episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender. My son in the crook of my left arm, my daughter in the crook of my right arm, my husband's freshly shorn head under my palm, and my new kitten all but strangling me. For just a moment, I stopped watching the show and thought, This is the most amazing thing ever, and This is the entire point of living, and I am perfectly happy right now. In that moment, nothing else mattered.
I had a moment of mercy the year after I was married. I couldn't find a job, I was far from family and friends in a new city where I felt constantly lost, and I had no earthly idea what to do with myself. I wanted to paint but couldn't find inspiration. I spent all day staring at the first sentence of The Book I Was Meant to Write, which never went beyond a single sucky paragraph. But I was staring out the window one day, deep in depression, having a crisis of self, when a cardinal landed on the branch outside and started to sing. He was just a few inches away, bright as flame and happy as anything, singing his heart out. And something twisted inside me like a key in a lock.
And then I picked up my brush and started painting.
That was all it took. That flash of happiness, of insight, of magic. Things got better after that. I did a series of paintings. I found a great job. But I never finished that book, and it intimidated me so much that I didn't try writing again for ten years... after another moment of mercy.
I believe it's moments like these, when everything perfectly aligns, that help put us on the right course and remind us of what's important. These are the moments that last in our minds and hearts-- not the car accident or the unpaid bill or the ugly conversation. Years later, it's the moments of mercy that show the points along our paths, the stars in our constellations. I can name so many over the years.
Once, I stood by a lake at night, surrounded by a hawk, a snake, and a deer, and I made a pact with myself, one that I haven't broken.
Once, I lay in the pitch-black dark, and I saw an idea that would become my first book.
Once, I threw myself into a patch of clover in a rainstorm and cried like my heart was breaking.
Once, I stood before a crowd of people and told them my deepest, darkest secret, and they cheered.
Once, I rode my horse through a forest on a Sunday morning and saw God in a sunbeam.
These are the moments when everything stops, when you can change the world.
I say grab the world, invite it to play Mercy, and don't stop squeezing until you've got it on its knees.