Every now and then we are faced with a scene in front of us that seems to speak to a deep place in our hearts- much deeper on reflection than on first viewing. I witnessed one such scene this morning. I was out walking my dogs around the district where I live, here in West Belfast. It was a grey sort of morning, quiet and quite dull. It was about to brighten up…
The door of the bus whooshed open and the old lady slowly alighted holding on tightly to her walking aid. Feet steady on the pavement, she raised her hands to her face and took off the mask she wore as a simple act of care for herself and others. She sucked in a deep breath of cool air and looked towards me as I approached, walking my dogs. Her eyes lit up and a wide smile spread across her mouth. She raised one hand and with her index finger made an exaggerated gesture as she counted the dogs. She mouthed, ‘one, two, three, four’ and giggled.
Having scanned the dogs she settled on Cody, the huge fluffy ginger pup. She held his gaze and said, ‘my old son’. Cody, seemingly believing that he was, indeed, her old son walked slowly up to her and placed his big head softly into her waiting outstretched hands. He looked up into her eyes and took gentle pets and even more gentle words of admiration and encouragement. ‘You’re a beautiful boy. Look at you, you’re lovely. Aww, good boy.’
For my part, I could only stand and marvel at the depth of connection and what it told me about the power of gentleness and love.
Presently, the old lady and Cody wordlessly reached agreement that this time of encounter with gentle love was over, and Cody moved back into the pack of dogs gathered at my side. The old lady gave me a smile, put her hands on the walking aid and began to move along the footpath. I moved in the opposite direction, feeling lighter for the encounter.
I am so grateful that I was a witness t this scene today. It strikes me that we can always do with a reminder of the importance of being gentle and loving with ourselves and with others. And so, a prayer;
For the times we encounter gentle love, we are grateful.
For the times we are not the presence of gentleness and love in the world, we are sorry.
For the opportunity to try again, we are humbled.
For all things, we give glory to God.