“It is a quality which eludes definition. It is to be felt rather than described. Gentleness is, so to speak, an "expression" on the face of love, the power of which may be realised in a moment, but the characteristics of which can with difficulty be transferred to the canvas." T. Campbell Finlayson
I guess I should start somewhere. But I don’t want to start with a definition because a definition cannot contain the power of something so transformative. In fact I googled the definition for gentleness only to find that I whole heartedly disagree with Merrian-Webster's simple definition stating that it is “ not strong or harsh in effect or quality”. It may not be harsh, but in a sense it is very strong and also creates strength.
So I would like to begin instead with an example.
I am from Oklahoma. The summer heat is brutal especially through July and August. A few years ago we had such little rain, many of the trees turned brown in the miserable drought. It was odd seeing the leaves dry out and change color (an ugly brown) in the middle of the Summer. We had a tree in our front yard die that year and had to cut it down. All that to say growing up I always looked forward to our annual Summer trip up North to Indiana. It seemed to be at least ten degrees cooler there.
My Grandma owns a lake cottage in a quaint town called North Webster. Every year we would escape the Tulsa heat and go visit not only my Grandma, but also my aunts, my uncles, and my cousins.
At the lake cottage there always seems to be a breeze rustling the trees during the day. And one of my favorite shaded spots is on the old wooden swing. I can sit there look out at the lake and watch the boats zooming by, or my cousins jumping off the pier, or the calmness of the water in the mornings and at night. It is the best place to just sit and be still or be with family!
I also have fond memories of basking in the sun after swimming. The water is usually very chilly, and so the warm sun feels wonderful. The magical thing about being at the lake cottage is that there seems to be little hurry and less worry. The only hurrying was when we were young and we were so excited to take a boat ride that we could not get our life jackets and sunscreen on fast enough.
Even now though, when I think about the word gentleness what comes to mind is how I felt lying on my towel letting the sun dry my hair, no hustle or bustle; just the warmth of the sun, the sounds of the waves, and the soft breeze. I also think about the swing, a simple place to be with my family or be with God.
I can only think to describe those gentle moments and the way I felt as golden.
What is it about those gentle moments that seem to strengthen the core of my inner most being? And why is it that gentleness is so often mistaken for weakness in our culture? Also, why does gentleness seem so scarce or rare?
As I have been reflecting on gentleness lately, I have planned to create a mini series about this topic. The series is called Golden. Each Tuesday for the next seven weeks I will hopefully share some thoughts with you about gentleness.
The topics I will cover are listed below:
- allows honesty of inner voice
- presence and nearness
- space for imagination, time, and freedom
- intervention and help
“You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great.” Psalms 35:18
Love and Hope in Christ