A Time for Tenderness and Tending
An Offering of the Center for Prayer and Spirituality
Excerpts from “The Pause Newsletter,” August 21, 2021. Copyright © 2021On Being with Krista Tippett.
In the last weeks, I’ve found myself riding a surge of gratitude for ordinary pleasures I did not realize I took for granted before the pandemic. The miracle of the vaccine, the reunions it made possible, made me feel electrified, reborn. I’m making promises to myself to keep attending to the elemental joys and new groundedness and life energy that have been an unexpected gift amidst so much hardness.
Yet this hasn’t been a summer of unmixed pleasure, by far. It hasn’t been the season of release and refreshment that many of us hoped for and needed. We’ve still scarcely been able to pause individually, much less communally, to metabolize the many forms of loss and disruption and learning that 2020 set in motion. These have continued. And the virus is not done with us. Terrible dramas of pain and danger are built into the state of the world right now. And the natural world, of which the virus is a part, is a source of deepening ecological grief in the very same moment that many of us have rediscovered our inborn delight in it, our belonging to it.
I’m feeling called to name all of this inside myself, and with all of you. As Christine Runyon counseled about the effects of the pandemic and social isolation on our nervous systems and psyches, naming even the hardest truths musters our innate agency to face and hold them. The truth is, the most ideal of summers could not have restored the ease and equilibrium we desire…. Yet a potential for tenderness –toward ourselves, toward others – is unleashed in a clear-eyed gaze at the unresolved ruptures in our midst. Possibilities for new life reside, in part, in holding the knowledge that the learning and work to which we have been called will not wait for us to be fully restored. As we are able, we must build practices of accompaniment, of tending refreshment – in equal measure to repairing and building and growing – into life, and life together…
Humility is a byproduct of living with the kind of contradictions that have come, at once heart-breaking and heart-opening, to suffuse our lives…
I wish you rest, and ease, and nourishment. And if you aren’t able to reach for those things – not all are, right now – I wish you kindness toward yourself, and the knowledge that you are not alone. Life unfurls ahead of us, more vigorous than our despair or exhaustion. We have it in us to rise to the grave and beautiful callings that have been placed before us, but only if we walk toward them together. And we will.
Love and blessings,