Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Try a Little Tenderness

Sometimes, preparing a meal when I am tired and cranky and want to argue with the assertion that popcorn is not an entrée, I catch myself grumbling, and I stop for a minute. I sit down in a chair and take a deep breath. I feel my weariness and I lay my hand on my heart, and wait for a little tenderness to arise.

And then, moving more slowly now, I prepare the meal, noticing the crispness of the red peppers, the scent of the cilantro, the creamy smoothness of the avocado. And, on a good day, if I can let go of rushing, I can allow my desire to nourish myself or others infuse and guide my preparation of the meal.

And I swear you can taste the difference.

Because intent- HOW we do something- shapes and to a large extent determines the impact of our actions. Actions taken solely out of obligation lose the fullness of their ability to touch the other or the self with that which is healing, expanding and renewing. Tenderness becomes elusive, and the effort is exhausting.

This holds for self-care as well as care of others. I have a long list of things that I know are good for me: eating well, going for a walk, doing my morning practice. . . .But if I do them out of obligation (to some ideal or “should”) and without any real tenderness toward myself, I find I am going through the motions somewhat mechanically and the impact- the restoration of balance and energy- is diminished.

And yet, I don’t want to make this quality of caring another “should.” Some days, all we can do is go through the motions- and sometimes that’s enough to make us available to the grace of a larger Mystery that carries us beyond obligation to our true and compassionate nature.

I am learning to catch myself when I move too fast, when I am driven by real or imagined obligations. I am learning, as the song says, to try a little tenderness with myself and others.

~Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House 

In keeping with this theme, as I look at this photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming, I think of Stephen Mitchell's translation of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching: "Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it."


  1. Wow, Oriah, I never cease to be amazed at the poetic and synchronous nature of the universe. No sooner had I finished writing a piece on intention, mercy and healing, including references from 'Messages from Water' and 'The Invitation, than I visit your blog and find these very same themes are the subject of your reflections! Like you, I also struggle sometimes, after a day of writing, to find the energy to cook a meal with real heart and tenderness...your sharing has reminded me of how much of our human experience we are in fact going through together, even though we feel alone within it. Sending you so much gratitude right now..! with love, Helen White Wolf