A Call to Tenderness

Photo by  Alexei Scutari  on  Unsplash


“It is in your self-interest to find a way to be very tender.” Jenny Holzer

When I was young, I had a big heart. A tender heart. An open, innocent heart. I could see and feel love everywhere, in all things, in all people. Love was awake in me.

But hearts are often wounded. I grew some very strong defenses around mine. I collapsed away from the pain rather than fighting against it. Something in me gave up a little bit each time until I realized a number of years ago that I didn’t really want to be here. At least not fully. There was this nagging sense that it was too painful to live in this body with a big heart; too painful to be me. In some ways, this was the end result of learning to collapse in the face of wounding.

I crave the tender, the connected, the almost-too-exquisite-to-touch moments of a human life. And I more often than not find few who know what I speak of or who are willing to admit they want the same.

Emotional and physical intimacy can be frightening. And yet, if what we are is tenderness, or innocence, or open-heartedness, then we cannot live what we are unless we are willing to be vulnerable tender and innocent and open-hearted.

At this time in my life, I’ve come to a place where I only want to serve the Truth of what I am. And what I am — what I feel when I look out my eyes at this world or touch the skin of another — is tender and soft, nurturing and loving.

I’ve made the conscious choice to be here, fully — to no longer continue to move away from life, but rather to move toward it. And as I’ve chosen this, I’ve known that something within me had to come forth. A supple resiliency. An inner strength that could stand strong alongside this tenderness. It’s something that I can feel inside of me, but that’s been strangely formed in a way — power that learned to protect the heart, but doesn’t fully serve the essence of tenderness I feel within.

But this power is steadily growing, and growing more of its true role. The more aware I am of the need to honor and dignify this tenderness and this love for life, the more I feel myself drawing strength back together inside of me.

We need access to both the power that moves within us as well as the tender kindness of the open heart. Life force expresses in an infinite number of ways, yet Yin and Yang must dance together in order to support a life that is fully embodied.

So many of us fear tenderness, yet we hunger to know it through the touch of another human who longs for this, too. We long to be invited into it and to find the strength and trust to enter.

How will we invite the touch of tender hearts back into our world? How will we take that first step toward a softer way? What might it take for us to choose fully to be here rather than half way out the door?

If we are going to flourish as a species and grow to serve all of life, it will be in our best interest to find our way to our essential tenderness.