Ours seems to be a world that values “strength.” We want “strong” minds, “tough” wills, “hard as nail” determination, “rugged” personalities, “sturdy” character, and so on. I wonder if we have confused hardness with the strength it takes to truly give and receive love. Let us praise softness. I’m speaking here of hearts, of soft hearts, of gentle spirits. I’m speaking of the gentleness to give and receive love.
Every heart has a wall around it, a wall that protects, yet also keeps out. Every heart is a walled garden, the original meaning of Paradise – the inner garden that’s protected by the wall. Yet I wonder how often the wall becomes a fortress, keeping out the very ones who are meant to reach us, nurture us, love us? Let us praise softness. Let us seek a heart that is not hard, but soft. Let us seek a heart that is not hardened like dry land, but a soft soil tilled over again and again.
In many languages, the words for “love” have a connection to words for “seed.” In Arabic and Persian, a word for love (hubb) comes from the seed that is planted in the ground. Sometimes a seed of love is planted in the heart’s ground through a glance, a touch, a word. Will the seed take root? Will it be nurtured? Will it be fed?
Are we strong enough not to keep out, but to welcome in?
Omid Safi, In Praise of Softness