This is a difficult time in the world.
Terrible things are happening globally, locally, personally and fear, anger, loneliness, suspicion and hatred
are being expressed on social media, in families, at work, between friends and in private thoughts.

It seems as if the concept of ‘gentleness’ has disappeared and is no longer present.
Gentleness: the quality of being kind.
Not much of that seems to be seen or experienced these days.
I wonder why.

Can gentleness exist when fear overwhelms?
Can gentleness exist when suspicion transcends reason?
Can gentleness exist when anger rages?
Can gentleness exist when hatred fuels communities, families, elections,
so that space is created for hope to filter in, for fear to be lifted, for hatred to dissipate?

Being gentle does *not* mean
ignoring the role we can play by
… being a voice for the voiceless
… righting wrongs
… challenging principalities and powers by our words, thoughts, actions, prayers.

Being gentle *does* mean
… speaking in tones and words that don’t threaten
… acting in ways that don’t incite
… thinking through situations
… listening to the voices of those who have walked similar paths before us: Gandhi, Anne Frank,
Malala, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus, Elie Wiesel, the Dalai Lama and many others.

Being gentle *does* mean
not giving power to hurtful words
… in personal emails, social media posts, phone calls, snail mail letters

Being gentle *does* mean
allowing those same hurtful words and actions
to lead us to places we have never been before
… motivate us to write letters to people in powerful positions
… encourage us to be public about our personal views
… propel us to address wrongs in our own community we’ve overlooked or ignored in the past
because it was happening to *the other* and not to us,
or because we didn’t want to get involved,
or we didn’t think it would make a difference.

Those same hurtful words and actions could become activators.
They could push us forward so we
… give financial support to organizations who are being threatened
… offer sanctuary in our homes, our cities, our countries
… speak gentle words of strength, courage, steadfastness
and hope to those who are deeply wounded by the rhetoric and chaos.

Embodying a life of gentleness could mean much to individuals, families, communities, countries and this world.
When others are experiencing pain, grief, loss,
rather than trying to be a problem-solver,
may we gently acknowledge their reality, walk with them and listen.

May we be gentle with one another.
May we be gentle with ourselves.

A reflection on the 1927 prose “Desiderata” poem by American writer Max Ehrmann:
be gentle with yourself
and others
you are a child of the universe
as are they
you have a right to be here
they do, too
and whether or not it is clear
to you or them
and ourselves
there is no doubt
that the universe is unfolding
as it should
so let us be gentle with others
and ourselves

© june maffin
A reflection on the 1927 prose “Desiderata” poem by American writer Max Ehrmann


© June Maffin

The photo (flowers of a blackberry bush) was taken in Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada