In the past few days I have thought quite a bit about gentleness …especially when a pastor came on retreat last week, and we focused quite a bit on Jesus’ invitation to come to him, and learn from him … who is gentle at heart.
I also have been reading a fine article by Wendy Wright on gentleness as one of the “little virtues” which may not be heroic, but equally necessary day by day when heroic challenges are not always before us!
She has some wonderful quotes not only from Scripture, but the writings of Francis de Sales, the Roman Catholic bishop of Geneva in the early 1600’s.
“Nothing is so strong as gentleness,
nothing so gentle as real strength”
Francis de Sales
“Don’t lose any opportunity, however small, of being gentle toward everyone. Don’t rely on your own efforts to succeed in your various undertakings, but only on God’s help. Then rest in his care of you, confident that he will do what is best for you, provided that you, for your part, work diligently but gently. I say ‘gently’ because a tense diligence is harmful both to our hearts and our task and is not really diligence, but rather over eagerness and anxiety … I recommend you to God’s mercy. I beg him, through that same mercy, to fill you with his love.”
Francis de Sales
She also points out that the call to be gentle with ourselves and others is part of a larger vision … a way, we might say, of “gentle evangelism” …
“Francis de Sales was convinced that heart speaks to heart, that we are drawn closer into union with God by others whose hearts are aflame with divine love. We are drawn most effectively not by fear or intimidation, by frenzied exhortation of reasoned argument alone. Rather we are persuaded by a heart that loves as God loves. We are drawn deeper into love’s longing by love itself. In living the gentle, humble heart of Jesus, we win others’ hearts.”
For several days I am at Grandfather Mountain for rest and retreat. I pray to learn that gentle heart of Jesus even more.
Your friend on the journey,