Seeking Tenderness with Strength


My mind is all kefibbled! (Yes, I made up that word ;-) I can’t scribble more than a few sentences without feeling cloudy and overwhelmed.  As our class draws to its conclusion, I’m feeling the loss of both my anchor and my safe space. Yes, the temenos of Seeing Red has become precious and inspirational to me.

Loralee tells us that the magic of Seeing Red is unplanned, but without her energy and vision there would be no container for the magic. Thank you deeply, Loralee, for building us a sacred home.

Funny thing, I didn’t know I was in need of a home. Or feminine wisdom. And I’d never felt the instructive power of feminine love. Yet here I am, held in temenos with so many ready to share this. For Seeing Red faculty don’t just lecture, they extend an invitation... Oh, how you’ve each painted an image of your destination and invited us to join you in the journey, walking beside us the entire way!  Together each week, we cross the threshold to a new room in our Seeing Red home. So what started as a one-room cottage last January, has grown into a palace this June!

I hope I can hold our palace in my mind and body until we convene again. I hope I am strong enough to live in this space. For the first time since I was a little girl I have a sense of identity again, and I see myself as an entity instead of a shadow.

How estranged and how wondrous is this thing called a woman’s body! I want to claim this flesh of mine, I want to learn to love it and feel it as a gift. And most of all, I want to learn how best to share the part of me that is still hidden, waiting to be named…

Demaris shared a powerful story of how she came to understand the single thing that serves as her centerpost. “I Stand for Peace,” she said. I want to be able to name my centerpost too. I want to come to understand. Realizing that my centerpost may have several names in passage, I also believe they will spring from the same source.  And that source is tenderness. Right now, I stand for Tenderness.

With the support of Seeing Red, I’ve learned that it takes great strength to be rooted in tenderness, and it’s not just about being kind. While kindness and compassion express the values of tenderness, they do not express the incredibly strong aspect of tenderness that is sensitive to pain. Not only our own pain, but the pain of our gender, our culture and our world. This is the aspect I want to develop - Tenderness as a lens. Tenderness with focus and fortitude.

Thinking back to college, I was very drawn to the stories of “The Dark Haired Girl” in folk songs, mythology and theatre. The dark haired girl is the bad girl, the one you leave behind.  The seductress, the prostitute, the killer, the spy, the addict... But I had no feminist lens at the time. And I made no association between the dark feminine and the feminine divine. So I identified with the darkness of those characters, but I didn’t value the tenderness of their aspirations. Someday I hope to speak for those of us who have been cast in darkness, and bring our hopes and fears out of the basement and into the living room.

Thank you to all the amazing faculty of A Voice No Longer Silent - once upon a time the best I could hope for was a reprieve from weariness, but now, held in the temenos of Seeing Red, I’m already feeling recharged.  Goddess blessings to all until we meet again.

"Try a Little Tenderness" with Andrew Strong in the 1991 film The Commitments

~ listen for when he whispers "F a n d a n g o"...