The flute of the Infinite is played without ceasing, and its sound is love:
When love renounces all limits, it reaches truth.
How widely the fragrance spreads! It has no end, nothing stands in its way.
The form of this melody is bright like a million suns …
― KABIR from Songs of Kabir Translated by Rabindranath Tagore
Biblically, tenderness is what follows when someone reveals to you your own inner beauty, when you discover your belovedness, when you experience that you are deeply and sincerely liked by someone. If you communicate to me that you really like me, not just love me as a brother in Christ, that you take delight in me (and would, even if I’d never written a single sentence), then you open up to me the possibility of liking myself. The look of amiable regard in your eyes banishes my fears, and my defense mechanisms (such as insulation, name-dropping, and giving the impression that I’ve got it all together) disappear into the nothingness of my non-attention to them. Your warmth withers my self-disdain and allows the possibility of self-esteem. I drop my mask of pretentious piety, stop impersonating Brother Teresa, quit disguising my sanctimonious voice, start to smile at my own frailty, and dare to become more open, sincere, vulnerable, and affectionate with you than I would ever dream of being if I thought you didn’t like me. In short, what happens is I grow tender.
— Brennan Manning from The Wisdom of Tenderness
I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe, more loved and welcomed than I ever dared hope.
— ELYSE M. FITZPATRICK (as quoted in The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas)
There is a part of the soul that stirs at night, in the dark and soundless times of day, when our defenses are down and our daylight distractions no longer serve to protect us from ourselves. What we suppress in the light emerges clearly in the dusk. It’s then, in the still of life, when we least expect it, that questions emerge from the damp murkiness of our inner underworld. Questions with ringtones that call the soul to alert but do not come with ready resolutions. Questions about life, not about the trivia of dailiness. The kind of questions to which there is no one answer but which, nevertheless, plague us for attention if we are ever to move through the dimness of life’s twists and turns with confidence. These questions do not call for the discovery of data; they call for the contemplation of possibility.
— Joan D. Chittister from Between the Dark and the Daylight
You wander from room to room
Hunting for the diamond necklace
That is already around your neck!
― RUMI from Daylight
When I started in ministry in the early 1970s in Cincinnati and worked with young people trying to convince teenagers that they were good. They all seemed to endlessly hate themselves. Later I saw it was adults too, who forever doubted and feared themselves. They had to spend much of their energy to use the American phrase, trying to “feel good about themselves.” Their self-image was base don mere psychological information instead of theological truth. What the Gospel promises us is that we are objectively and inherently children of God (see 1 John 3:2). This is not psychological worthiness; it is ontological, metaphysical and substantial, and cannot be gained or lost. When this given God image becomes our self-image, we are home free, and the Gospel is just about the best good news that we can hope for!
— Richard Rohr from Preparing for Christmas
Late on a sleepy, star-spangled night, those angels peeled back the sky just like you would tear open a sparkling Christmas present. Then, with light and joy pouring out of Heaven like water through a broken dam, they began to shout and sing the message that baby Jesus had been born. The world had a Savior! The angels called it “Good News,” and it was.
— LARRY LIBBY (as quoted in The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas)
When everyone had gone
I sat in the library
With the small silent tree,
She and I alone.
How softly she shone!
And for the first time then
For the first time this year,
I felt reborn again,
I knew love’s presence near.
Love distant, love detached
And strangely without weight,
Was with me in the night
When everyone had gone
And the garland of pure light
Stayed on, stayed on.
— May Sarton by from Collected Poems