Pop quiz about 1990s sit coms! Who was the prime time uncle known for his signature expression “Have mercy!”?
If you said Uncle Jesse Katsopolis, you were right. Thanks to Uncle Jesse’s role on Full House, many of us became used to the expression “Have mercy!”
Among friends and colleagues here in Missoula, a new mercy expression has taken over: Wild Mercy.
Named from a passage from Terry Tempest Williams (see original below), Wild Mercy is an annual community reading series sponsored by The University of Montana’s Environmental Studies Program and the UM FLAT.
Last week, I joined my friend and colleague Beth Baker in reading some work at Wild Mercy. I read a short essay called “Where the Streets Have No Plows” (about snow, “Midwestern-ism,” and unlocking my car from a sheet of ice on a Missoula street) and “Place, Pride, and the Packers” (a playful consideration of how the power of Packer pride might extend Wisconsinites’ pride in, and concern for, other valuable aspects of Wisconsin culture).
You can listen to the reading online here, thanks to our friend Micah Sewell, who recorded, edited, and posted it. (In the black box of the upper right-hand corner of the page, click on Reading 2. Beth reads first. I am introduced at 35:00; some music plays as I am being introduced, but the music ends when I start reading around 36:00.)
All readings for Wild Mercy have been (and, through the end of the series on March 14, will continue to be) posted on the same site, so consider checking back and listening to other interesting work by the writing community I’ve joined in Missoula.
“To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wildness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.”
– Terry Tempest Williams
To sign off, I’ll unite the best of Uncle Jesse with the work of the author I most admire and encourage everyone to “Have wild mercy!”