Wednesday Word: Being Gentle

Be gentle with others because you never know what they are going through – Social Media Meme

In the I Witness book discussion group (the Advent/Christmas daily meditation book that several of us are going through), the topic of prayer came up which led to discussions on what we pray for, whom we pray for, and why we pray.

Someone in the group said that they had begun praying for the people in specific buildings around her – primarily apartment buildings. She doesn't know all those people, but she prays for their health and safety nonetheless. I mentioned that I broke down the parish directory into 30 separate sections and pray for every member of the parish throughout the month during Evening Prayer.

These are the prayers that focus on anonymous people and unknown problems; or, in my case, known people and unknown problems.

We are living in extremely stressful times right now as COVID continues to make its way through humanity, as hospitals are filling up, as employment issues rise, and/or any number of other things pile up on each other. We don't know what other people are dealing with. We don't know what stresses they are under. That isn't to excuse bad behavior, because there is plenty of bad behavior that is inexcusable, but that is to say that sometimes stress can be overwhelming and cause people to act in ways they wouldn't normally act.

Sometimes it isn't stress, but something else. Maybe it's an illness someone is trying to keep hidden. Maybe it's a feeling of shame at having been suckered into a scam. Maybe it's a form of physical or mental abuse. The list goes on.

As we move into 2022 with all its uncertainties, may we become more mindful that friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and people in general may be experiencing difficulties which we know nothing about. In 2022 may we become gentle with others. In 2022 may we give ourselves permission to be gentle with ourselves. In 2022 may we all pray for the health and safety of those around us.

2022 may not be any better than the last two years, but let us work to make it a little less rough.



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