I’ve been thinking a lot about gentleness these days, and was reminded of its importance again this morning as I held Rescued Bird #3 in my hands, carrying him back outdoors to freedom.
I admit, I had to laugh along with my wife at my bird-catching shenanigans in our 7th story apt building hallway. “I’m walking down the hall,” she says chuckling, “and [at the elevator area] there goes a bird… then there goes Steeny [my nickname. hush already.]… then there goes the bird again … then there goes Steeny.”
Luckily she didn’t see the part where the bird was walking down the hallway with me (totally grundged out in post-workout-soaked spandex-loaded exercise clothing) tiptoeing along behind it holding a bath towel. Let’s not review those security tapes, ok?
I had to hold the little guy pretty tight to keep him from escaping during our trek down the stairwell, but, wanting him to know I was not a malevolent captor, I wrapped him in gentleness: petted his sweet little head with my thumbs and told him (yes, out loud) that he’d be ok — all while keeping my hands locked close around his soft little belly (and wings and feet).
When I got to the lobby, the security guard looked at my cupped hands, shook his head, and said, “Is that ANOTHER bird? What IS it with you and birds??” I just grinned and shrugged my shoulders. Really, I don’t know.
I freed my little captive outside and took a minute to re-gather my heart as “little guy” flew off.
That’s what gentleness does: it opens your heart and softens your actions.
Or it sets you in action by activating your heart so strongly that you can’t help but DO something with it.
Like rescue birds. And plant gardens. And pray. And empathize. And pay attention — REALLY pay attention — to the inner stuff of people. And express gratitude. And believe more in your own beauty.
I have often thought the gentle parts of me needed to be sharpened, roughened, toughened up… and I suspect some of you have as well. But as I experience more and more the healing powers of gentleness (within myself and others), I want to shine a light on its value… and remind us all that “gentle” doesn’t mean “weak,” it just means our heart has been added to our strength.
Need to get in touch with your gentle self? Hold an egg in the palm of your hand. Or feel the soft fuzz of the back of a baby’s head. Or rub the petals of a flower. Or touch the cheek of a loved one (it’s best to not do this to strangers).
I, for one, will love you for it.