Day 490

Time to Talk – A service for people affected by suicide.
This year it will be held at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar square. London on the 27th of February from 10.30-11.30 am.
It is a non-religious service and all are welcome.

“Gentleness is an old-fashioned word. I want to describe what it means and why it is so important.

To be affected by suicide is to be surrounded by enemies: sometimes memories, fears, isolation, shame, guilt, regret: the enemy of loss, failure, doubt – the unknown. It’s not hard to feel powerless and out of control when it feels like there are so many enemies.

One of the most paradoxical of all the sayings in the Bible is, ‘My strength is made perfect in weakness’. The way to address our vulnerability, our fear and our self-destructiveness is not with some great show of strength. It’s through making friends with our weakness. And the name for that is gentleness.

It’s all very well to say, ’Be gentle with yourself.’ But what does that mean? Possibly 3 things :

The first is silence. It can feel like a great enemy, because if you stop moving or talking or tuning into some kind of gadget, then your mind can go into overdrive. But silence can become a friend if it turns from a place of absence to a theatre of presence. Silence is for listening to the abundance of what’s out there, birds that sing and tweet, breezes that stir and swing, a tiny, busy world of insects and creatures. Silence is for watching, paying attention to texture, depth, hidden beauty and delicate detail, wispy cloud, distant blue sky and intricate snowflakes. Time, instead of being a threat or a diminishing commodity, becomes irrelevant. Silence stops being the interval between distractions and starts being the place of exhilarating, infinite discovery. It’s a fruit of gentleness.

The second thing gentleness means is touch. Many of the feelings associated with suicide are violent, sudden ones. Gentleness embraces those feelings but issues in tender touch. Holding a person’s hand says, ’I’m here. This is good. You can trust me. I am not going to run away. I’m not in a hurry. Your body, your life, your presence, your hand – it’s good. I’m not going to grab it. I am going to cherish it. Holding your hand I can feel the mystery of your flesh, the blood coruscating in your veins, the warmth and softness and creativity of your fingers. These are mysterious and wondrous things. We were made for solidarity. We were made to stand by each other in times of sorrow and distress. No one is an island. Together we are a continent. Those are the tender things touch teaches. They are the fruit of gentleness.

And then, when we have made a foundation of silence and touch, then you can begin to try words. In the absence of silence and touch, words can seem disembodied, arbitrary, meaningless. But if you have made friends with silence and trusted yourself to find good ways to touch, words don’t have to be too much work. Actions have already spoken. Understanding is already there. Words are faltering attempts to give feelings, images and ideas a name. If they are surrounded by silence and touch, those words usually come out very gently. Harsh words hurt. Gentle words heal.

Sometimes it may seem that happiness is way out of reach. But the truth is that happiness seldom comes to those who go looking for it. It’s only discovered on the way by people who are seeking something more important. Silence, touch and words are that something more important. They’re the way to show solidarity to one another.They’re the way to dismantle the enemies that sometimes seem to surround us. They’re the way to be gentle with ourselves. They’re the way, slowly, carefully, cautiously, to learn to live again.”

-An excerpt from Revd. Dr Sam Wells’ address from Time to Talk service held on 28th Feb 2015.

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