Gentle is the one who is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of the other and enjoys being together more than accomplishing something. A gentle person treads lightly, listens carefully, looks tenderly, and touches with reverence. A gentle person knows that true growth requires nurture, not force. ~ Henri Nouwen
I wonder if you’re like me? Are you also quick to see when another person isn’t treating themselves gently, but slow to recognize that in yourself? My frustration rises as I watch myself make the same mistakes I’ve made before, repeatedly. Then the internal voice starts and before I know it I’m haranguing myself in a way that has no relationship to gentleness. “When are you ever going to get this right? Why can’t you ever seem to figure this out?”
I took today’s picture in our back garden. We have several clematis vines growing along the fence. We planted this particular vine last year. I wasn’t sure at first whether it would make it, this past winter was so harsh. Then when spring came, I saw the first few tender leaves begin to form. I cleared away the space around the base of the vine and gave it a little fertilizer. I did the things I knew to do to tend the little plant as it grew into a frail looking, thin vine. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, buds began to appear, and when they opened, these amazingly large flowers appeared. I had no idea a vine that slender and young could produce something so glorious.
In some ways my soul is like the clematis vine. Life brings harsh winter seasons and I struggle to believe the life in my soul can survive. I have to patiently clear away the debris left by physical exhaustion, by relational hurts and wounds, and the many other things that leave me feeling bruised and tired of trying. I have to carefully feed my soul with the words and experiences that I know are restorative. I have to treat myself gently.
This is Day 12 of 31 Days of Soul Tending and the focus is treating myself with gentleness. I’m reminding myself that fussing and fuming in an attempt to force growth in my soul and spirit is doomed to fail. Gentle tending seldom produces quick results, but almost always produces results that last.