” I followed all of the rules, man’s and God’s. And you, you followed none of them. And they all loved you more. Samuel, Father, and my… even my own wife.” Alfred (at his wife’s funeral in Legends of the Fall, played by Aidan Quinn)
I saw this film at a time in my life when I was struggling with my personal identity, and these lines struck me in the core of my being.
I began to weep.
Whenever I teach a yoga class, I preface almost every change in position with the words, “Now please gently…”
One time a student called out, “Why do you always say gently?”
Gentleness is not something most Americans know much about. Our approach to life is marked by force, attitude, determination, control, tenacity, a ‘git-r-done’ mentality. While none of that is wrong in and of itself, they most often militate against any “gentleness consciousness.”
We speed down the road in a hurry to get to our next task. We jockey for the best parking space at the store. We set things down with a bang/clang. We consume our meal as if it is the “Passover” and we need to be ready to flee. Even the way we tread upon the earth lacks gentleness. Rice Paper Walk
When we are trying to persuade another of the rightness of our opinion, we raise our voice, intensify our language or tone–not gentle.
The Buddhist practice of “ahimsa” keeps gentleness in the forefront of the practitioner’s consciousness so that all they do is wrapped with gentleness.
What do Christians have in the way of a gentle practice? “A bruised reed he will not break, nor a smoldering flax will he not put out.” (Matt. 12:20) (When was the last time you heard a sermon from that verse?)
We often see the phrase referring to the “gentle Savior,” but we rarely find a gentle disciple. Yet Jesus said, “It is enough that the disciple be as his master.” (Matt. 10:25)
Gentleness should mark the life of one who considers himself spiritual. Gentleness should be the characteristic of all that we do in thought, word, and deed.
Why is gentleness in such short supply?
In what way could you practice being gentle today?