“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.”
Naomi Shihab Nye
“Be kind whenever possible.
Kindness is always possible.”
“We don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another.”
‘And in the naked light I saw
ten thousand people, maybe more
people talking without speaking
people hearing without listening
people writing songs that voices never share
no one dare
disturb the sound of silence.
“Fools” said I, “You do not know
silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you.
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
and echoed in the wells of silence.’
From the ‘Sound of Silence’, Simon & Garfunkel
“Your decrees are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.”
MY PRAYER today is for gentleness. I think it is the heart cry of us. We don’t know quite how to express our needs, or we fear they won’t be met, so we try to protect ourselves, we try to secure our own way to prevent further pain. If we are not careful we can become harder, more opinionated and resentful. While we long for gentleness, and unconditional love, sometimes it can be hard to reach around our armour to receive it.
But there is another way. To open ourselves to pain, as fully as to joy. A few days back listening to the radio, I was inspired to hear someone speak on the subject of suffering – how it reduces some, while others it enlarges, and they use it to grow. Referring to how pain causes us to face our deepest inner-selves, the speaker noted how there are people who use their pain to grow in empathy and sensitivity. Kindness and gentleness is often the hallmark of someone who has suffered deeply as Naomi Shihab Nye reminds us. Today I pray that we would not shy away from our pain, and protect ourselves through the erection of rigid defences, but that we would use it and open avenues to each other, of honesty, communication, care and tender acceptance. Pain tells us that something is wrong, but often brings with it the remedy.
These are drawn from daily reflections I write for my Chaplaincy colleagues.