3 | asterisks and gentleness #Lent2022

Paul writes, “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

When lockdown was announced in 2020 and we were watching the news reports with concern and then horror at the deaths in the Northern Hemisphere, I also noticed there was for me a little excitement, as in, “Okay, kids, this is how we handle tough times. Watch me!”

My mantra was “Peaceful & Productive”. I bought watercolour paints, canvases, organised the pantry, adopted Zoom, downloaded a running app, sorted through the attic, and wrote inspirational quotes up on the blackboard. And as a family of four introverts, I was almost embarrassed at just how okay we adjusted to life in lockdown.

Then the second lockdown of 2020 was announced … and as we euphemistically said, it had “a different emotional landscape” altogether. I found I couldn’t come up with a pithy catchphrase to steer us through. In fact, the only words that came to mind were ones I’d have to spell here with asterisks!

After a few days, the word “gentle” came to mind, to be gentle with myself and to be gentle with others: my family, pets, friends, community, and masked strangers in the supermarket. This one word made me relax. I decided “gentle” would be my word, not that exciting, in fact kind of a quality that’s easy to overlook. But it must have been what I needed and it must have been a good fit because it wasn’t too big a stretch to be able to offer it to myself or others. It kinda took the pressure off.

The third lockdown coincided with a strange time for our family. There were two of us needing biopsies (and all the stress of that), and our eldest daughter leaving home and moving to the city (and all the excitement and stress of that). The word for that lockdown was basically “grit”. I just pretty much had to resolve to buck up and try to push on as calmly as I could. Just white knuckling it through, really.

Lockdowns 4, 5, 6 and 7 and the word “gentle” returned to my mind. I failed plenty of times to be gentle, but gentleness became a balm of sorts, something I could pull to the front of my mind and cling to when we were all having to dig deep and turn up to daily lockdown life and a global pandemic. Something I could offer others when I had nothing else to give.

And then the summer of 2021/22 with omicron and its so-called “shadow lockdown”. Yep, plenty of words requiring asterisks … but also “gentle.” Ω

Reflect: Have you ever held a word or Biblical virtue as a mantra to guide you through each day? If you were to adopt one now, what would it be?

What is this? Lent is the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of reflection and pilgrimage. To help you on this journey, Sanctuary has put together 40 stories from people both within and beyond the congregation, with associated questions for reflection and prayer. A reading will be uploaded every day of Lent. This year’s theme is Fruit of the Spirit. Why? Read this. #Lent2022. Real People, Real Stories: 40 Readings for Lent © Sanctuary, 2022. 

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