Consider Tenderness

November 18, 2013

Donna Schaper

". . . be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you." - Ephesians 4:32

When all the fur is rubbed off and when you are old and splotchy, let there be tenderness left.  When you have scraped away all the decades and regret competes with gratitude for your attention, consider tenderness.  No doubt you were never kind enough. Still, and then, hope that all that is left of you is love.

At the end, are you going to worry about what you looked like to people?   Or worry instead about protecting what is left of your tender heart?  A designer magazine told me that I should pay special attention to my coffee table books.  "In that aspirational place called the living room . . .  coffee table books tell the world what kind of person you would like to be."  I also wonder what people would think of me if they saw my kitchen. Or my unfolded laundry. Or those socks without mates.

I long for kindness at the end the way a girl longs for a bike.  I know that we are all writing the first line of our obituaries all the time, through coffee table books or not.  We do care about what others think.  What I want most, though, is tenderness, coming at me and coming from me.

As fall lurches towards what many call a foregone conclusion, so do I.  Tenderly.

Prayer

Give us a destination we can reach. Let its name be tender, the stop on the train after forgiveness.  Amen.

About the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her latest book is Grace at Table: Small Spiritual Solutions to Large Material Problems.
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