Tenderness

I want to think about tenderness this month. It is a quality I greatly care about and our rocking world needs it very much.

We think of tenderness as being soft, a quality characterized by gentleness. In my experience when we act with tenderness our actions can enter circumstances and change them more deeply than other qualities do. Tenderness, like water, finds it quiet way through almost all barriers. Taking its time, tenderness is fierce.

Phrases Posted on Facebook, February 2020

A sweet daily practice might be to hold something in your hands as if it were very delicate and breakable. Once you feel a current of gentleness flowing through you to that object, ask yourself, “What needs tenderness in my life?” An answer will bubble up from deep inside. Then it will be up to us to follow through with gentle tending.
Have you noticed that people who have tenderness at the core attract cats, dogs, babies and the elderly? Somehow they send out a signal: “Come sit with me. You’ll be safe.”
When we hold even an inanimate object tenderly we practice tenderness. The object, like the Velveteen Rabbit, becomes real, seen for its value, and our tending hearts will also be seen.
Everyone one of us has some feelings of shame and fear. Mostly we lock those feelings in and keep the door shut. But it is precisely with them that tenderness belongs. It is a courageous journey to allow tenderness to filter in through the cracks in our inner door. It can be a Valentine experience.
There are tenderizers out there for tough meat. I wish there was a tenderizer for the tough attitudes that sometimes show up inside, don’t you?
Can you remember a time when someone was entirely tender towards you? Whatever feeling and/or sense of self that was evoked in that moment is something we can continue to nurture and be tender towards now. Doing that, I think we’d be giving ourselves a kind of Miracle Grow.
Sitting side by side, simply being together without words, without agendas for ourselves or for the one we are with, can be some of the most tender moments we will have with one another.
There’s a Dad that comes with his Downs Syndrome teenage boy to the therapeutic pool I exercise in. An hour ensues of rough horseplay between them. The kid is in heaven and so is the Dad. I once told him how glad I was to see him so with his son. He replied, “He thanks me every time even if we do something a thousand times.” There’s two-way tenderness!
Being thoughtful and tender towards our own basic needs of nourishment, rest and creative self-expression seems automatically to open a way for more conscious respect and tenderness towards others. This is not selfishness. It’s soul-fullness and benefits those whose lives we touch.
We know everything is always changing. There is no permanence. Why not take the poet, Blake’s, suggestion, “Kiss joy as it flies.” It’s a loving way to stay in a tender relationship with life itself.