"Because thine heart was tender ... I have even heard thee." II Chronicles, 34-27
Give no occasion of stumbling; keep tender; for hardness of heart is worse than an outward plague, for that brings destruction in many ways."
George Fox, Mind the Heavenly Treasure
Since Fox would have witnessed--or at least been alive during--the last of the plagues, the strength with which he believed in "tenderness"--what we might call compassion or sensitivity--is immense. I think of the common use of the f-word and how that word alone tends to coarsen us. It is so easy to get callous. It's interesting that in a world that continues to encourage both a physical and pyschic swaggering and toughness ("get the f. out of my way!"), just as it did in the seventeenth century, Fox, from the great beyond, directs us to put a premium on ... lovingkindness. I believe he is asking for a giving up of self for other, an embrace of vulnerability, and a truly countercultural point of view that values and does not ridicule earnestness and sincerity. Around now, many people are probably asking: who would want to live in that kind of goody-two shoes world? Probably a lot of people who are suffering right now and wouldn't mind an earnest word of kindness. Also, we do remember that people like Fox and Fell are hardly namby-pampy halo heads--their writing is alive with their anger and indignation at what they saw all around them. They were quite interesting and outspoken livewires--but what moved them arose from tenderness. Or so I think. Do you?
I have often wondered what it would be like to have known Fox. I think the passage of time renders him fundamentally inscrutable, but at the same time, his words speak directly to us (to me, at least). Where does their power come from?
I had a student come up to me yesterday and ask if he could borrow a projector over the weekend so he could show "Avatar" in the boys dorm. I am ashamed to say I gave him a hard time about it. What is it, I wonder, that we fear when we pull back from helping someone out? Keep tender, indeed.
Thank you so much for this post. It spoke to my condition last night. It really helped me when I was finding it difficult.
Thanks Rosemary. I was seized with an overwhelming feeling--ie, leading--that I should share Fox's words, so now I am glad I did ... It is a very mysterious thing.
Yes, I didn't expect to meet with ministry on the internet. But then why shouldn't we expect to meet with it everywhere? Anyway, I really enjoy your blog. Thanks.
Good to try to catch up on your blog, Diane. Yes, I agree. Such passion is closely akin to kindness and softness of heart. Reflecting the kindness and heart, indeed the love of God.
Bless you. Your words speak to my heart and encourage me to try harder to be the person I want to be.
Thanks and blessings,
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