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Sun, Oct. 20

Gentle people

"... we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children."

I Thessalonians 2:7

Delbert grew up under his grandmother's porch, and wherever he went, he left little piles of ants, probably from having to carry his food with him in plastic grocery bags, having no means of his own. He was a gentle soul, largely determined by his great doe eyes, tender voice and soft demeanor. Delbert was delusional, however, and sometimes paranoid enough to find himself readmitted to the state psychiatric hospital.

His poor candidacy for street life left him as vulnerable as a baby kitten amid a pack of wild dogs, and frequently Delbert endured harsh beatings by street bullies who seemed to enjoy taunting him. I'm happy and sad to tell you the ending to his fascinating story. Although Delbert died quite young (nearing middle years, perhaps), God had reached out a gentle hand to His shy, suffering child, and Delbert spent his last years within the comfort and protection of a lovely group home, where he was stabilized with proper medications and cared for by gentle and nurturing counselors.

I have always admired gentle people and wished that I could behave so. I found it extremely difficult to hold onto gentleness, if I could locate any at all, when chaos tried to snatch it away. I was raised by a screamer, became a screamer, and taught my children to do likewise. I try to step back now, before reacting, and to act instead of react. I do find glimpses of a spirit of gentleness now and then, and I hold out hope.

Toward whom shall I offer a gentle heart? A gentle hand? How might I demonstrate gentleness today?

Lord, today I choose gentleness toward all, regardless of how all might behave toward me.

Adapted from "Finding the Flowers in a Prickly World," by Dianne Finnegan Wilson. You may e-mail her by visiting

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