I was recently reminded that sometimes I see the world through anxieties and fears, which drive me to act in ways that are anything but tender.
I recently rediscovered some children’s cassette tapes in the attic of my house and thought that it’s time to get rid of them. Our kids are both teenagers now.
Instead of throwing them out or finding someone to give them to (who still uses cassettes?), I grabbed my 13-year-old daughter’s old player and popped in a tape.
This one was an album by Fred Penner, a Canadian children’s singer-songwriter. I pressed Play, and out of the speakers came a song about a lonely bump that lived in the middle of a prairie. He pined for the life of a hill, where people would come from miles around to hike, ski and look at the view. Then one day someone comes and builds a house on the bump. A family moves in and he realizes that it’s not so bad being a bump after all.
Hearing me singing along, “I’m a bump, badump, badee dump, in the middle of the prairie,” my oldest daughter kidded me, saying that I’m living in the past. She was partly right, but I was remembering more than just the time when my girls were babies.
As a children’s performer, Penner excels at conveying a sense of gentle innocence and anticipation for stepping into life and becoming the human being you are meant to be. If I had to sum up his singing and playing in one word, I’d pick tenderness.
Hearing that tape again reminded me that sometimes I see the world through anxieties and fears, which drive me to act in ways that are anything but tender. I lose an appreciation of softness; of gradations of thought, movement, possession; and of the vulnerabilities that give life meaning and point toward hope and overcoming. It makes me think about the cross and of the selflessness of tenderness and what it can birth.
I’ll have to work a little harder now at not locking tenderness up in the attic. Maybe I can, indeed, find someone who would like those tapes.