When our daughter was born, we already had two babies at home. And by babies I mean cats. For the first two years of our marriage our fur-babies, Maddie and Maude, took a lot of our attention. But then our daughter was born and everything in our household changed. We made every preparation possible to welcome Ilse into our lives, but the cats didn’t know what was coming. They kept their distance for only a day, and then the cats seemed to decide that they were supposed to be Ilse’s guard kitties. They kept watch over her; following us when we paced the halls at night trying to get her to sleep, joining me on the couch for meal time, and listening to the stories we read over and over again. But little babies become toddlers who crawl, grab, and pull, and life changed for the cats again as this little person started to follow them. We had a period of time where we were constantly saying, “gentle touch” whenever the cats were within Ilse’s reach. “Gentle touch, gentle touch, gentle touch.” We read the little board book, “Tails are not for pulling,” and we demonstrated the right way to pet and hold the cats. It took a ton of supervision and patience on everyone’s part, but Ilse learned and the cats became less wary of her as her little hands became more gentle. By the time Ilse was a young preschooler they trusted her to be gentle, knowing that she wouldn’t pull their tails or ears or fur anymore.
When I think about gentleness as a fruit of the Spirit, I think about our constant refrain of, “gentle touch, gentle touch, gentle touch.” Of course we know to be gentle in our physical interactions. But I wonder how often we think about “gentle touch” when it comes to how we use our words, how we vote, how we spend our money, or how we tend the environment. How are we using gentle touch when we think about public policy, or food insecurity, or in our relationships with our neighbors? In his explanation to the 5th commandment in the Small Catechism, Martin Luther says, “We are to fear and love God, so that we neither endanger nor harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help and support them in all of life’s needs.” It sounds a little bit like “gentle touch.” As you go about your day today I ask that you keep your eyes open for gentleness and pay attention to when and where your words and actions support those around you.
In Peace, Pastor Ruth
Let us pray:
Lead us, Gracious God, and shape us by the grace of Christ and the inspiration of your Holy Spirit. Open our hearts to expand our understanding of gentleness and peace, that we may grow in our ability to reflect your love and grace to those we meet this day. All this we ask in the name of Christ, Amen.