Earlier this week, as I was about to enter into a potentially fraught family situation, a friend of mine, encouraged me to ‘go gently.’ His advice struck a chord; it felt like a word being whispered into my heart from a higher power. Yet, his words were in themselves offered gently.
Yesterday, when, to paraphrase the Beatles, ‘all my troubles seemed not very far away,’ the word gentle reappeared. This time through my nightly prayer (I am currently using David O’Malley’s Prayers to Close my Day – highly recommended, it is stunning value for money, and uses contemporary language).
In turning to God the Opening Prayer uses the form of words:
‘Thank you for your gentleness, with which you surround me in this evening’s silence. May it penetrate and settle my thoughts and feelings.’ This short extract provides insights into the quality, geography and biology of gentleness. It is conceived as a form of love which surrounds (geography) and is to be discovered in silence (more geography) and penetrates (biology) before settling our thoughts and feelings. In settling our thoughts and feelings gentleness restores and redeems us. Gentleness, it seems, is God’s ‘natural antidote’ to the inevitable stresses and strains of life. It is to be found, in silence, in communion, with God.
Although God wants to be gentle with us, and to teach us to be gentle with ourselves and others, the initiative is not all God’s. He offers the invitation, we are called onto respond. God’s RSVP, as it were, can be found in Matthew 28, 11: ‘Tired, warn out? Come to me you who are weary and exhausted with worries, and you will find rest for your soul. Walk with me, work with me, learn from me. I am gentle and have a loving heart. Learn from the unforced rhythms of Grace (I love this ‘gentle reminder’). I will not lay upon you any burden too great for you. Come to me and learn to rest in my presence.’
So it appears that ‘gently’ is my word of the week, given to my by a friend and whispered again, and again (so it penetrates my thick skull!) through Scripture.
‘What words are being given to you? And, how are you receiving them?