photo friday: gentle

Posted by on August 31, 2012

I think about gentleness every day. I think about where it is lacking in my surroundings, in people, and in the things I read, and the facial expressions I see, and the voices I hear, present and past. I think of it on the road, when I drive. Mostly, I am concerned with the poverty of gentleness inside of myself, again and again, day after day. Each day I have to find it again.

Today is my and Jeff’s ninth wedding anniversary. In nine years I have learned that my family should not have to bear the weight of my private harshness, and in fact cannot bear it. I cannot be a perfectionist with myself and expect it to end there. My inner voices leak out. When I am floundering to find gentleness inside of myself, judging myself, holding myself up to impossible standards, I snap, say something withering, sigh, or explode.

I think that it is my job as a mother to create gentleness inside of myself continually so that it overflows onto my family. Even if the corners of my soul are swept bare of it on a given day, I have to go out into the highways and find it. Sometimes it feels like this assignment is akin to spinning straw into gold. But to my amazement, the task turns out to be possible. There is always some gentleness to be harvested from some source, sometimes from thin air, literally through breathing, by which I really mean prayer. There are metal blockades that plant themselves on my path all of the time, but I can always find a way to slink around them if I grope for the small hand of gentleness somewhere in the dark room of my insides.

I don’t know how to depict gentleness with images abstractly today. I think I am still suffering from Moving Brain combined with Back to School Brain right now (the other day I spent nearly an hour filling out all the various cumulative forms and permission slips that came home in Esme’s backpack), so taking new photos right now is just not happening. These are all photos of grandparents with their grandchildren, passing on some gentleness from one generation to the next.

Visit Amber’s blog and consider joining in for next week’s Photo Friday theme: red.

My dad reading to Esme.
Our godson David with his grandmother, on the morning of his baptism.
Mimi (Jeff’s mom) holding Elsa when she was sick.
Esme with her Papa Tom (Jeff’s dad).
Posted in: Photo Friday
  1. Manuela
    August 31, 2012

    Congratulations to you and Jeff. I hope you get to go out.
    Thanks for your reflection on gentleness.
    This is my favorite part:"When I am floundering to find gentleness inside of myself, judging myself, holding myself up to impossible standards, I snap, say something withering, sigh, or explode."
    So true. It is a good reminder to first look at yourself when gentleness is lacking.

  2. Kate T.
    August 31, 2012

    The poverty of gentleness: brilliant.

    I really need to get back to contributing to your and Amber's lovely weeklies. This week, less canning, more typing.

  3. Julia
    August 31, 2012

    Well, Kate, I personally find the canning equally if not more impressive.

  4. A M B E R
    September 1, 2012

    You know Julia, I sat down at the computer to write about gentleness but could not manage to make any interesting words appear. When I read your post I am deeply pleased, because somehow you do. You take the stuff of everyday and spin it into gold, to use your metaphor.

    I am struck by the similarity of the images with those that Charles' Uncle Mark posted. (You should check out the image of the "Norwegian grandfather" on his sight–there is so much similarity with Charles, right down to the iconic white t-shirt)