A Gentle and Tender Hand


A Gentle and Tender Hand


When we honestly ask ourselves which person … means the most to us, we often find it is those who, instead of giving much advice … , have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand.
-Henri Nouwen


Most people, it seems to me, have the feeling that they are much more frequently a friend to others than they are the recipient of others’ friendship.

If this is the case, I have a hunch why: Often our expression of friendship is too soft, too weakly expressed, too timid and thus easily not noticed, mis-read, or otherwise missed. We seem to be a culture that doesn’t want to butt in, or invade anyone’s privacy; sometimes to an extreme.

I think it’s an area where we need to eschew caution and timidity and barge right in with friendship.

I was at a large convention, the newbie in the group who didn’t know anyone, and feeling very isolated. Everyone seemed to know each other, all standing around in groups chatting and laughing animatedly like friends; everyone but me.

I searched for another single individual whom I might approach for conversation and thus join the group. I saw no one. I was becoming very self-conscious when I felt a touch on my shoulder (“a gentle and tender hand”) from behind. I turned to encounter an elderly woman with a kind face smiling and saying, “We’ve just been saying that there seems to be so many people here from the West this year. Where are you from?” as she drew me into her conversational group.

That was it. My feelings of isolation were transformed into feelings of inclusion. I felt part of the group immediately.

It was small thing, an easy gesture on her part. In that moment she was a friend to me. A small thing, yes, but I still remember it.

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White Space
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White Space

A Gentle and Tender Hand

by David Kundtz time to read: 6 min