Nurture not force

Once in a while we meet a gentle person. Gentleness is a virtue hard to find in a society that admires toughness and roughness. We are encouraged to get things done and to get them done fast, even when people get hurt in the process. Success, accomplishment, and productivity count. But the cost is high. There is no place for gentleness in such a milieu. Gentle is the one who does ‘not break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick.’ 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. Let’s dress ourselves with gentleness. 

Henri Nouwen

Who we are

Growth and transformation occur not by changing who we are

…….but as we summon the courage to be who we are.

And that means bringing our own true, vulnerable, imperfect selves out of hiding and into the world

Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment

Arguing

Ancient wisdom for the day that is in it. It can apply to both people outside of us or to the complaining voice inside of us that forever “argues” with how things are:

Get away from any man who always argues every time he talks.

Abbot Pastor in Thomas Merton, The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century

Having space for whatever comes

The start of a long weekend here in Ireland. Also the clocks go forward this evening, meaning that the evenings are darker earlier and autumn feels more fully present. A natural time to become less “busy”.

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.
 
Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.
 
No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.

Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952 – Red Brocade