Howard Somervell, an Everest Team Member, 1922, is described as "the gentlest of souls, decent and compassionate, a devout Christian of unfailing good humor."*
I am reminded of too many "devout Christians" who are anything but gentle, ready to dismiss those with whom they disagree, hardly compassionate and decidedly missing anything remotely resembling good humor.
Sourpuss demeanor and argumentative temperament characterize too many "devout Christians."
Having said that, the above description of Somervell stands as a model for me.
As for gentleness, years ago I had a small banner in my office that read: "gentleness is true strength" or something like that.
As for decent and compassionate, I think of folks I've had the pleasure of knowing who've embodied these virtues rather fully, in such a way that the whole of their life is colored by these sturdy characteristics, and sturdy they are. There's nothing weak-kneed about them.
And unfailing good humor - there's something about that that calls to me. In a world where bad news is abundant, unfailing good humor sustains the soul, lest it decay into darkness, and such humor encourages others to keep up the good work and stay the course.
Good humor acknowledges all the sadness of the world, but retains a deep connection to something the Psalmist describes as "the rock higher than I am."
A man or woman who embodies these qualities is likely to practice a deep presence with others, weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice.
And as a friend once described a mutual friend, "When they enter the room, lights are turned on."
May it be so for us all.
To either be such a light for others, or when the dark edges of life creep upon our soul with their shadows, there will be another light to stand beside us, gentle and decent.
*p. 380, Into the Silence by Wade Davis.