When Israel was a child I loved him…It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks. Yet, though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer. (Hosea 11: 1, 4)

Living with Tenderness

At a recent gathering, I sat behind a young couple and their toddler. The parents worked as a team in response to the constant needs of the little girl. With back and forth movements their care resembled a well-choreographed dance, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of them.

Moments earlier I had heard on the news about another act of mass violence, and I came to this shared prayer experience seeking a word of hope. And, the word did not delay; in fact, it was acted out in front of me! Over and over again as these young adults raised their daughter to their cheeks, tenderness was gently proclaimed.

Between sips of water and healthy snacks, both mother and father held her close, gently stroking her blonde tresses, and kissing her. Stooping down, and rising up again, they communicated to their daughter and to each other, another way of being in the world.

The prophet Hosea uses such a parental image to describe the relationship of God with Israel. His description assures us that God acts with tenderness, with “bands of love” toward his people. The Holy One, who created every community and every person in each of them, draws and fosters like a father, stoops and feeds like a mother.

Confronted daily with the relentless violence that overwhelms our senses and pierces our hearts, let’s seek to mirror the actions of our Divine Healer who still touches our world through the tenderness we show to each other.

Be Still, Reflect, Pray

1. Describe your favorite image of human tenderness. How did you react?

2. Have you experienced the tenderness of God recently? How? Where?

3. Pray for children, young parents and all families.

Sister Joanne Buckman