My thoughts about "tender" are scattered. They nag like a sliver under my skin. Extending tenderness to others encourages me to pay attention to others and myself. As well as I think I might know a friend, I don't know all of the minor slivers under the skin or deeper cares hiding in a heart. They may not care to share all of their story. Of strangers, I know even less. Judgement comes more easily than tenderness. Extending tender thoughts to the driver who pulls out in front of me, the walker with no inclination to yield six feet on the sidewalk, the person with opposing political views is challenging.
Elizabeth Alexander's poem, Praise Song for the Day.* comes to my mind this morning. See the link for the entire poem. Her prose and poetry are worth reading. This poem begins:
"Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other's
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking."
and then continues with a description of ordinary activities. Later the poem takes a turn in these two stanzas.
"Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take more than
you need. What if the mightiest word is love?
Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance."
*Alexander, Elizabeth. Crave Radiance Minneapolis, Minn: Graywolf Press, 2010., (p.247-248)
One of tender's origins, "tendere" (Latin) means to extend outward, stretch, spread out, direct one's course. I continue to think about how to stretch into and extend tenderness as we turn the calendar to July.
And "What if the mightiest word is love?"