Tender Heart

Me, in a tender moment.

(This is also what I look like on the 

rare occasion I straighten my hair.)

Hello, friends.

I've been gaining more insights into this pruning year, which I look forward to sharing with you soon, but for now, because I've been feeling quite a bit of tenderness this week, I thought I'd simply use this space to share a bit about that tenderness with you.

Sometime in the mid-afternoon on Wednesday, I left the work office to drive home and found myself engulfed by a wave of sadness that would not let me go. It felt pretty inexplicable, this sudden sadness that landed on me as I drove toward home in my car, and it stuck with me for several hours that day.

That night, sleep did not come easy. I stayed awake for a solid two hours after Kirk fell asleep, unable to get tired enough to fall asleep myself. So I spent some time reading and some time puttering around online, and when I finally turned off the light to try and sleep, I felt an acute restlessness. I got up and stretched my legs for a little while, trying to push the restlessness out of my limbs, but it persisted.

Then, after a little while, I started to notice something.

Deep down, so deep inside that I only noticed it once I'd gotten really, really quiet, my spirit was praying. It was praying hard, and in a language I do not know.

This intense prayer that sometimes happens in a language I do not know is not new to me, but only on rare occasions does it begin to happen without my knowledge of its happening or my prompting for it to happen or my participation in its happening from the beginning. But that's what was happening that night.

Once I realized that was happening, my mind began to roam over the various people and concerns in my life right now. I thought about Kirsten, of course. I thought about my family members. I thought about some of my friends on Facebook. I even thought about our president and this increasingly crazy election season.

But nothing I thought of seemed to touch that deep-down place that was praying and praying and praying. So I let go of the attempt to figure out the reason and just began attending to the prayers, participating in them with my full attention and intention.

I stayed awake for a while that night praying for this reason I did not know.

The next day, the sadness was right there again, waiting to accompany me throughout my day. It kept following me around. I kept feeling the need to break down and cry at odd moments. At one point that afternoon, I sat on the couch petting Diva and said out loud (to myself, to Diva, to God), "I keep feeling sad . . . and I have no idea why."

One contributor to some of this sadness, I know, is the reading I've started this week for a new class in my graduate program. It's a course on spiritual formation and social justice, which I am very glad to be taking.

As part of the course, I've begun reading a pretty intense book by Thomas Merton called Faith and Violence, which is very good and has been on my "to read" list for quite some time. But it's also a difficult read, covering topics such as the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement with incredible perception and honesty.

Although I'm glad to be reading this book and have been learning so much from it so far, it has also stirred up so many ongoing questions I have about nonviolence, and it also can't help increasing my sadness about the ongoing state of our world. Some of the heaviness this week, I'm sure, has to do with all this reading and pondering. (And by the way, because of these persisting and preoccupying questions I keep having, I'm feeling pretty close to reopening the Journey Toward Nonviolence blog very soon.)

Then yesterday, I received a call from a dear friend who shared with me some pretty significant news. It is news that affects a number of people I know, and it concerns something we collectively cared about very much.

Even though this news doesn't affect me directly, it still affects me. It feels like it happened to me right alongside everyone else. So I shed a few tears yesterday at this news, and I sighed quite a lot through the rest of the day, and I kept asking God lots of questions about it.

Finally, in need of some relief (do you ever just need to give yourself a really good cry?), I snuggled under the covers and turned off all the lights and just watched straight through my favorite cathartic movie of all time, Sense and Sensibility.

There's more to be shared about all this, I'm sure, but for now it's enough to stop right here and say of this week:

Yes, indeed. There's been quite a bit of tenderness here. 

I just keep trying to move slowly and gingerly right now, then, handling my heart with care and with an incredible amount of grace and love. That seems to be what it needs most.