Fruits of the Spirit: Gentleness
We have enjoyed sharing pictures of how we see the Holy Spirit, featuring alongside our series on the fruits of the Spirit as Paul lists in Galatians. Today’s image also comes with a great little story – the perfect match with Reverend Susan Blagden’s focus on gentleness: the beauty that comes with the calming gentleness of our constant companion, to whom we should be attentive. It seems that Beverley Warden-Owen’s grandson has the knack!
A couple of days ago I walked into our back yard where we have a big trampoline and a swing set comprising three swings. I found my 6 year old son sitting in the middle swing. He proceeded to explain that he had tied the three swings together because one swing was for Father God, one swing was for Jesus and he, my son, was sitting in the middle and they could all swing together. When I asked where the Holy Spirit was, my son replied “she’s sitting on my knee.”
It’s amazing how simply and well a child can explain something like the Trinity and the simple truth that the Holy Spirit is always with us!
Reverend Susan Blagden writes:
I wonder how you have been spending your daily exercise time? I have been using it to improve my macro photography and continue supporting COFNOD (Welsh Record Office) with my nature sightings. One of the many delights this has brought has been learning more about the behaviour of different species of butterflies. Most of the time butterflies flutter by with seeming ease and gracefulness but occasionally there are territorial fights. These beauties of the insect world epitomise for me that quality of life that is named as a fruit of the Spirit, namely gentleness, an ability to tread lightly and kindly. It is a quality that the writer of Pregethwr/Ecclesiastes also knew to be important:
Pwy sy’n ddoeth go iawn? Pwy sy’n gallu esbonio pethau? “Mae doethineb rhywun yn gwneud i’w wyneb oleuo, Ac mae’r olwg galed ar ei wyneb yn diflannu.”
Pregethwr 8: 1 (Beibl.net)
There’s nothing better than being wise, Knowing how to interpret the meaning of life. Wisdom puts light in the eyes, And gives gentleness to words and manners.
Ecclesiastes 8: 1 The Message (Biblegateway.com)
“Gentleness to words and manners” this is where the lovely image of fruit gets challenged by the gritty reality of living with real human beings! Bishop Francis de Sales recognised the challenge of this in our ordinary lives. He was a Swiss bishop who wrote for ordinary people, not primarily for monks, nuns and priests. He is well known for saying that: “Nothing is so strong as gentleness: nothing as gentle as real strength.” He wrote often about gentleness for people who were trying to live their spiritual life whilst attending to the ordinary things of daily life such as caring for children, work, or daily chores. In fact, he wrote so much about gentleness that he has become known as the Gentle Bishop. His sage advice was: “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”
Well, we know that the whole world seems upset just now so where do we start? First and foremost we must learn to be gentle with ourselves. Francis reminded his readers that Jesus said: ”Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” Learn from me, He was saying, to be patient and gentle with everyone, but especially with yourself. Don’t be anxious to condemn yourself every time you fall. Instead, patiently, gently, pick yourself up and start all over again. Use every opportunity to perform acts of patient gentleness, no matter how small they may seem at the time. Wise advice indeed! In this time when much of our world seems to be upset, may we take every opportunity we can to let the Holy Spirit nurture us in gentleness. May we drink deep of the nectar of calm like the butterfly. May this fruit of gentleness then be evident in our words, whether written or spoken, as well as in our actions.
God of power,
may the boldness of your Spirit transform us,
may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us,
may the gifts of your Spirit be our goal and our strength now and always.
New Zealand Prayer Book
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