“and I could never express how grateful I was for the way our mistresses mothered us. I do not know why, but they seemed to watch over me more tenderly than over the others. The first mistress used to come every night with her little lamp and gently draw aside the curtains of my bed; then she would kiss me very tenderly on my forehead. She showed so much affection for me that one evening, touched by her tenderness, I said to her: “O Madame, I am so fond of you. I want to tell you a secret—a big secret.” I had been hiding your precious little book from Carmel under my pillow, and now I drew this out to show her, my eyes shining. She opened it very carefully and then told me how lucky I was. Several times during my retreat I realized that there were very few motherless children who were looked after as tenderly as I was at that age.”
— The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of the Little Flower (with Supplemental Reading: Classics Made Simple) [Illustrated] by St. Therese of Lisieux
Sometimes, but not often, I will read something that just stops me in my mental tracks. It is as if a door suddenly appeared and opened up to a Truth, an eternal Truth. As I read the above passage, the word “tenderness” did it for me this time. I’ve seen a lot of kindness in my lifetime, but tenderness is different, isn’t it?
We live in a world where tenderness is not always so visible between people, between religions, between nations. Kindness with Affection? Is that what Tenderness is? I wonder if that is why some people like their pets so much? Do they get a chance to demonstrate tenderness? You can’t be much more vulnerable than when you are being tender. Maybe it is easier to do with animals? Didn’t Billy Joel write some lyrics about “leave a tender moment alone?” Yes, he did. It was on that great album of his, Innocent Man, I just looked it up.
In the passage above little Therese was spending time away from her home at, I guess it was, a convent of sorts. She was preparing for her first Communion. … I wonder if God is tender? I need a tender God. Sometimes I just want to climb upon God’s lap and lay my head upon God’s shoulder. I’ve said that before so it must be true.
I don’t think I would be described as being a very tender person but I think those around me could use my tenderness. I think tenderness requires holding nothing back, just a full expression of how special the other person is, a wholehearted gentleness. Otis Redding sang a song called Try a Little Tenderness, yes? Yes, I looked it up again.
Maybe tenderness is at the top, the very top of a person’s ability to love. Why are we often tender with children but not with them as they grow up? But then again, it seems like it gets easier to be tender with some old people. Others old people, not so much.
Oh well, we’ll keep this just between you and me Diary. Still there is a Truth there. I know it. I know it because my heart told me so.