One of the things I love is being introduced to a book I would never have otherwise come across. Gillian Ahlgren’s The Tenderness of God (Fortress Press 2017) is one such book. Our Vicar Al Barrett has been talking about this book for a while and some of it helped shape his sermon on Sunday (http://thisestate.blogspot.com/2018/07/dividing-walls-home-making-and.html). On Sunday evening there was a discussion about the book and the contribution the spirituality of Francis and Clare may make to us today. I missed the conversation which was very frustrating as I had read the book and would have loved to hear what others thought, however, there were other things I needed to do Sunday evening.
I want to share the introduction to the book:
Difficult times are always tender. They expose our fragility and make us wish that we were other than human. They put us in direct contact with our vulnerabilities and our fears, but they also reveal the strength, resilience and possibility that reside beneath the surface of our lives. As I read the signs of our times, they qualify as ‘difficult,’ and we stand to lose a great deal. But it is possible that the very challenges that we face have the capacity to call us to a different way of experiencing our humanity? If we succumb to the posturing and violence that feed our anxieties, we stand to lose access to the very tenderness that sometimes frighten us with its beauty and potential. Is it time to try a different way?
If you read this blog regularly you will know that I have been thinking and writing about vulnerability recently and this book leads on well from that. My main focus professionally is work with children and young people and this introduction particularly resonates when I think about the world they are living in. I am also very aware at the moment of the fragility of life and the way that those among us who are elderly are treated sometimes. All of us need to be treated with tenderness, but somehow the old and the young often present as particularly vulnerable for many different reasons and I grieve when I see or hear about cruelty – a 3 year old having acid thrown into their face purposefully or an elderly person conned out of their money, for example. I have for a while thought a lot about being kind, I am now pondering how being tender illuminates that. I look forward to the continuing conversation…