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death and mercy

May 2, 2011

I saw a man die this morning. (At least, I’m pretty sure he died.) I was in my own little world as I walked down the street, and I barely noticed him near edge of the sidewalk. It was the gathering crowd that made me look over. I saw the flashing ambulance lights and the empty gurney first. And then I saw the large man lying bare-chested on cement as paramedics administered CPR. His whole body shook under each compression and the target pressure of one hundred pounds. I knew his shirt had been removed to apply the AED tabs. I turned my head away and began praying for the man. I don’t know if he died at that moment, if his life was just about to end, or if he had already passed, but something inside me knew he wasn’t going to survive.

I didn’t stop, although I wanted to. Not to stare curiously as everyone else was; I wanted to hold up a sheet or a blanket or something to preserve the man’s dignity as he lay unresponsive, half-naked and vulnerable in the street, but what else could I do except pray? I knew nothing of the man who I believe died on 42nd Street, but I prayed that God have mercy on his soul. He could have been a saint – I still prayed. I do not doubt he was a sinner – I still prayed. He could have committed atrocities against humanity, but a soul is still a soul; a child of God – I still prayed.

On a morning when many were discussing the death of one man, my thoughts kept going back to the death of another.

May God have mercy on all of his children.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 2, 2011 5:50 pm

    Very well said. It’s so easy to get caught up in praying for “people” that we forget to pray for “persons.” With Divine Mercy Sunday just yesterday, trust that the Lord is infinitely merciful, and your prayers on behalf of that stranger was heard.

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