Gentleness as Contact

Yes, one more post talking about rain and hail. :-)

While Jesus never spoke of damaging hail, he did speak of our love falling upon people as refreshing rain:
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matthew 5.44-45)
The fruit of the Spirit I think of when I think of rain is gentleness. A gentle rain. Nothing quite moves me spiritually as a soft, gentle rain falling on trees, flowers or grass. Seriously, a soft, gentle rain will quickly send me into deep, mystical, spiritual reveries.

All that to say, if we want to fall on others like rain, gentleness is what comes to mind. Gentleness is the opposite of hitting people like hailstones.

And yet, I don't think I've ever heard a sermon on the virtue of gentleness. Kindness, yes. But not gentleness. Are they different, kindness versus gentleness? Patience versus gentleness? Mercy versus gentleness?

Of course, they are all related. But in the semantic range of English, gentleness seems to evoke notions of contact. Gentleness makes contact softly, calmly and tenderly. Something harsh, by contrast, makes contact in ways that hit us hard and roughly. You can, I imagine, do something kind and merciful in a way that isn't gentle. Which is why, I'm thinking, gentleness, in the biblical Greek, slides into notion of meekness. Meekness seems to be less about what you do in the world than how you go about doing it. I think gentleness points to a similar idea. It's less about what you are doing than how you are doing it.

Which is why, to loop back to rain and hail, rain is gentle and hail is harsh. Both are examples of contact, two objects meeting. Which makes it a great metaphor for human interactions. We make contact with each other, all the time, in ways that can be either soothing or damaging, gentle or harsh.

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