Ground hog day, in a sense, hasn’t every day for the last year been ground hog’s day? Just as in the movie, we face the same over and over again? The same arguments, the same battles, the same fears? Yesterday, here in North Carolina the weather was cloudy, dark, threatening. Today the sky is clear, the sun is bright, and I’m sure Queen Charlotte, our local celebrity ground hog, had to have seen her shadow. I know punxsutawney phil saw his. More Winter. So, what does all of that have to do with this month of love, not much if anything really. I simply wanted to get that in there.
What prompt have I chosen for this day? On which love emotion did I want to share my thoughts? Tenderness.
https://www.yourdictionary.com/tenderness has four definitions for tenderness.
I think that when we hear the word tenderness, our mind immediately goes to the image of a new mother brushing the tips of her fingers against her baby’s cheek. A soft, butterfly kiss to the forehead. That oh so gentle touch of love.
Or the embrace of an elderly couple who have spent fifty, sixty, seventy years together. That sure sign of lasting love.
There is an image that comes to mind. At the marriage of a young couple, after that “You may kiss the bride” kiss, the new groom gently, yes tenderly, placed a kiss on the bride’s forehead. Not demeaning, not childlike, tender and loving. Special.
One of the four definitions is “concern for the feelings or welfare of others”
I’ll admit, up until now, I have not thought of tenderness in that capacity. Even as I now realize I should. A vision of Mother Teresa comes to mind here. But her name is known, her actions shared. What of those now? What of those who work behind the scenes or on a more personal,limited level?
How, can we show tenderness to those around us?
We have all seen the images of the homeless and how they try to survive. While every day has difficulties, winter has to be in the least harder. The temperatures, especially in areas with extreme cold, the worst. While there are signs every day of people becoming more aware and trying to help, the crisis continues. When I see coat drives or photos of people who tie scarves to fences with a sign, take one if you are cold. My heart feels hope.
When I see food drives for the hungry, or even those places set up for those in need to grab a can or two, so to eat. I feel hope.
It isn’t always about money. It is about offering hope. It is about recognizing the humanity in everyone. Even those who might be considered less.
When we see someone struggling to reach an item on a shelf, cross a roadway, climb stairs, and we are able to assist, that is tenderness and concern.When we see a child being bullied and we encourage them to believe in themselves, show them they are not the lesser of the group, we show tenderness. When we find a way, manage to get through to even one who has been the one doing the bullying, and change their actions, we have shown concern.
When we see one, child or adult, struggling to have the things they need to move forward. Whether educational tools, books, a pair of good shoes or shirt for a job interview. One child or adult struggling to read, or do math, or comprehend science, and we have the means to assist and we do, that is tender concern.
It isn’t exclusively for humans.
We can show that tender concern for animals. When we hear of a family pet lost, and we either actively or passively help look for that animal. When we find a stray that is hungry or hurt and we find the way to get them food and help. When we stand up for protecting wild life over things such as deforestation. Taking care of the lives who cannot take care of themselves against the poachers and trophy hunters. (Not getting into hunters who do so to provide food for families)
In the Bible, we read verse after verse of where Jesus the Christ gathered children around Him. He took care of the sick, the widowed.He fed the hungry. He taught all who would hear, that it was and is our responsibility, duty and privilege to take care of those in need.
I see now, and understand better, that in truth, concern is a very real form of tenderness. Writing this, has given me a better understanding and comprehension to those acts. I will never look at one reaching out to another in need the same way. Seeing one in the offering of food, a coat, or even a cup of hot coffee, as a true act of compassion, concern and tenderness does warm the heart. It changes the limited perspective to one wider and greater. From a hand out, to a hand up. From one hand to another, to from one heart to another. From here take a dollar, to here, take encouragement and hope.
And you know what? Considering that movie, Bill Murray as Phil Connors, went from arrogant to yes, understanding tenderness. So even that fits.
Thank you. I’m very glad you think so.