There was a longing for some missed step along the way, some kind of orientation to life or honoring of the intensity of the spiritual journey that didn’t happen soon enough. And so finding my way back to where I could sense a loving higher self had been a long, tedious journey.
The process of gathering up fractured parts of self came with its own kind of heartache. Somehow, thankfully, it also came with added tenderness. That’s what kept me in the game. It was the awe at how I kept finding just the right piece just before I really needed it and the resolve to stick with myself no matter what. It was the determination to learn to trust life and to turn what looked like a complete mess into something beautiful — again and again.
There were moments of deeply felt grief, having endured a long, intense spiritual and human journey. There were regrets and lingering physical scars and emotional wounds. And there was tenderness, something that was understood deep down to somehow be the whole point.
There was the understanding, in the brief moments of outer calm, that I had given up many things on this journey — but not this. I wouldn’t have been able to endure without this tenderness of spirit.
I wouldn’t have been able to be present in a world of challenges without having broken apart and come back together. I wouldn’t have been able to look at overwhelming challenges and destruction without knowing what is possible. I had been to the edge of destruction in my own way and had, against all odds, transformed — not with my own limited human self alone, but in cooperation with something much bigger that I didn’t quite understand.
At a certain point, it became clear that standing on the edge of destruction was only one way this thing could go. It was possible to be moved also by respect and compassion for having made it so far and the passion to prevent future suffering wherever I could. It was possible to nurture and allow the smallest spark of pure love to ignite.
Transformation into tenderness meant being okay when life wasn’t all sorted out. It meant holding a space for all the words that, for whatever reason, just wouldn’t ever be spoken. It meant detaching with love and acceptance from all that had been left in the past, often without resolution — not knowing what would become of the tender ache left in its place — trusting it would become something beautiful.
As I looked back
on the long journey,
the thought came
that if I had to choose
a place to start again,
I would go back
to the first time
I was moved
my own heart —
when there was nothing
left to try
except to drop everything
and find out
what was left.
I would start again
— Laurie, What Now
There was a continuous movement within the stillness of my true Self. It was the softening of all parts of me that had felt separate and lost in repetitive cycles of emotional pain.
I had reached the place of enough is enough and decided to find my way to tenderness. Tenderness came out of the realization I was reliving the exact same old pain I had vowed to never feel again. It came out of the last bit of gathered strength to try one more time to hold and honor it instead.
I found it was possible and simpler than I had imagined to soften my experience in my heart and in the world.
I began by taking the reigns of my own healing journey, while dropping the struggle at the same time. Help showed up as needed, but it was when I really began to live from my inner heart space that I began to experience tenderness.
I focused on being my inner healer and living out of a formless, creative space,. My inner experience immediately became a place of reprieve. After a while, I understood that trauma and past patterns could be held and transformed in a natural, organic way. I learned to trust my inner healer to show me just enough in each moment and to catch all the pieces of my heart each time I tossed them up or whenever life became too heavy.
I began to notice small moments of natural tenderness and a faint whisper of a wordless prayer in my heart. It was the opposite of the struggle to push away pain and impossible to ignore because I had known such huge contrast.
After a while, it was most natural to remain open to experiences and the slightest sign or hint of the beginnings of tenderness.
After a while I learned to be in my heart and in the world. I learned to extract all that was beautiful and all that was tender from each experience. I learned to stand with the part of me that was most healed and let go — holding the door of my heart for all that was not quite beautiful — daring to continue on with love.
The new chosen path was an unbelievable contrast to the old. From the outside, it didn’t always appear to be all that different, but from the inside it was clearly new. Instead of being pulled under by thoughts and experiences, all that appeared in my mind and in the world was seen as raw pieces of one continuous prayer.