My dear young friend,
It was a modest day’s catch, to be sure. But as I said, I do not fish as
those who fish for their livelihood. The fish provided dinner; my son’s wife
and their family enjoyed the meal with me.
It is good to have grandchildren. I suspect this is because my grandchildren
and I have a common enemy: their parents. But upon examination, there is much
more to the matter. I find myself teaching my grandchildren things which I would
never have taught my children – but which my grandfather taught me. There are
some virtues which only an old man can impart.
I have very little time left in this world, I suppose. So it may seem foolish
that I live as if I had all of time. But consider: should I not have mastered
life by now? And if I have, what difference is there in another day?
So I teach my grandchildren. Their parents teach them to do things; I teach
them to have patience. More than that, I teach them gentleness. It is a virtue
which ornaments a woman and strengthens a man.
Consider the matter in your own time. Is it not the case that the truly
strong are the only ones who can deal with others in gentleness? Those who hope
they are strong; those who want to be strong; those who know they are not strong
but wish to deceive you – all these must act with harshness. But the man who
is truly strong has the liberty of being gentle. No father would be accounted
strong because he struck his infant. Being sure in his strength, he can be
gentle. So it is with the truly strong; they are the gentle ones. So it is with
those who are at peace with God; they are protected by the omnipotent one.
Gentleness is indeed a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
For women this is also true. Women are weaker than men, or so we believe. But
there is strength in going, and there is strength in enduring. I think that
women are stronger in enduring. Such strength is often best shown in gentleness.
Many women are greatly tried. A woman who is greatly tried and responds to all
with gentleness is accounted noble. Such a woman was my Mary Ann. She endured
all, and returned a sweet word for the sour. How often I would enter our
bedchamber grousing, only to hear her words of sweet counsel. Much of my wisdom
came from her strength.
I hope your wife can indeed do the same for you, my friend. Do not mistake
her gentleness for weakness. Rather, give her the opportunity to bless you with
her wisdom. If she is thoughtful enough to hold her tongue until she is in the
bedchamber, close the doors and open your ears.
It is late and my bones ache again. There is a summer storm on the way, I
feel it. A draft of wine and to bed for this old man.
Hoping this finds you in health and wisdom,
Isaac the alchemist