Slowly, Slowly

Be gentle, Val.

No, these aren't words I heard as a baby getting ready to pet a bunny. These are the words I hear as a twenty-seven-year old receiving self-care advice from wise women who surround me.

Be gentle, Val.

I, like many others, have a hard time showing myself care and compassion. But, the past few weeks I have had no choice but to practice as I have been under the weather. God literally said, "Slow down, my child. Rest."

Be gentle, Val.

So, this Advent has been full in a different sort of way than my normal. I haven't been reading. I haven't been writing. I haven't been riding my bike or running to the lake. I can't give a lot of detail about how I've filled my days.

Be gentle, Val.

But, I have spent a lot of time with the Visitation, my favorite Bible story. Although Mary traveled "in haste" to Elizabeth, she stayed for three months. When I imagine what might have happened during that time, I have visions of nurturing, compassion, and relationship. I cannot imagine Mary or Elizabeth feeling rushed or moving from one task to the next. They were both pregnant with amazing Life, after all!

Although they are both undoubtedly models of courage, I also have spent time contemplating their tenderness and care. They knew how to slow down and be gentle. As I finally got back on my bike yesterday, I found myself singing one of our Advent tunes to myself.

The lion will lie with the lamb, and all will worship your name.

I envisioned my own lions greeting my lambs with peace and gentleness. Edward Hicks' Peaceable Kingdom came to mind.

And, when I checked my mailbox this morning, this quote was waiting for me:

"Mary herself did not completely understand what was going on in her life. She knew a call from God and she knew the power of God in her life. She knew commitment. But all the rest was mystery. There were no assurances - no blueprint - no security. There was only the sense of call and the will to respond. For those of us who want to be part of the birthing of Christ in our time, like Mary, we must go on, we must treasure the call of God, and we must be content to ponder in our hearts the mystery of God in life, the understanding of which comes only slowly, slowly."

And, which picture came with it? This one, of course.

Rejoice! Even though I am twenty-seven, God takes care of me as I take baby steps on my way toward gentleness. Slowly, slowly.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

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