``ALWAYS be gentle,'' a friend said. Another remarked, ``I work to express gentleness in everything I do--even in the taking of tissue from its box.'' I pondered that. I remembered how I had often been chided for my noisy rushing around as a teen-age waitress. Then later as an apartment dweller my early-morning slamming of cupboard doors daily woke my neighbor's baby until my neighbor complained.
Some years later, I received an assignment: Practice gentleness. I did, and gained much. I discovered that such practice brings quietness, peacefulness, and patience, as well as opening doors to friendship.
Yet all the while I was seeing gentleness as a quality that one put on like a garment. It could be lost, torn, stained, forgotten. Such gentleness could even wear pride as an accessory. For instance, when my newly blossoming gentleness was commended, I accepted the praise as a personal tribute.
But then I began to recognize an important point. The spiritual healings I was starting to experience as a result of my study of Christian Science awakened in me an awareness of God as a gentle presence. They gave awesome glimpses of the gentle holiness of both God and His image, man. Gentleness, I learned, was God's own quality, expressed freely and perpetually in His reflection, man. I saw that unless this was understood, gentleness would remain a superficial quality for me--something to use only when I remembered or when it was convenient.
But as I grow in my understanding of God as the infinite source of all true gentleness, I see it expressed more and more when men and women accept their spiritual unity with God. For then they reflect His gentleness as a natural expression of their spiritual heritage. And they know God Himself more perfectly.
Because gentleness is God-derived, it denotes no weakness, for God is omnipotent. The power of gentleness was proved to me one morning when, in severe pain, I decided to call a Christian Science practitioner for healing prayer. I thought of a friend, a practitioner who lived hundreds of miles away. As I began to dial her number, I thought of her gentle manner. While I dialed, I considered how, in our real being, both she and I were embraced in divine Love, both of us at that very moment expressing God's holy gentle- ness.
I was healed before the call was made! All pain left, never to return. Instead, a great glow of gentleness filled my being. I felt the essence of God's kingdom within. No weakness here!
What a privilege it was to rejoice with my friend in the healing power of gentleness--gentleness that expresses something of the divine power that Jesus so fully manifested.
Jesus, the ideal man, whose Christly compassion touched multitudes to teach and heal them, is still our Exemplar. Surely, he proved what the Psalmist sang of God, ``Thy gentleness hath made me great.'' 1
Even Saul, a severe persecutor of Christians, learned gentleness as a Christian convert named Paul. He wrote to the Thessalonians, describing his ministry, ``We were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.'' 2
In one of her poems, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, addressed God in this way: O gentle presence, peace and joy and power; O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour, Thou Love that guards the nestling's faltering flight! Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight.3 What spiritual growth we experience as we learn of God's nature and let His gentle power unfold within our lives. 1 Psalms 18:35. 2 I Thessalonians 2:7. 3 Poems, p. 4.