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The Medicine of Tenderness

The Medicine of Tenderness

The Medicine of Tenderness


A woman’s body, like the earth, has seasons;
when the mountain stream flows,
when the holy
thaws,when I am most fragile and in need,
it was then, it seemed,
God came

God, like a medic on a field, is tending our souls.
Our horns get locked with desires, but don’t hold yourself
too accountable; for all desires are
really innocent.  That is what
the compassion in His
eyes tell me.

Why this great war between the countries – the countries –
inside of us?

What are all these insane borders we protect?
What are all these different names for the same church of love
we kneel in together?   For it is true, together we live; and only
at that shrine where all are welcome will God sing
loud enough to be heard.

Our horns got locked with the earth and sky in some odd
marriage ritual; so what, don’t worry.  We should be proud of
ourselves for everything we helped create in this
magic world.

And God is always there, if you feel wounded.  He kneels
over this earth like
a divine medic,

and His love thaws
the holy in us.

St Teresa of Avila

Entering this holiday season with an array of feelings: Grief, relief, pain, joy, anxiety, impatience, feeling grounded, ready, and also easily distracted.

I range from feeling connected with the sacred and distant from anything holy.

This is disorienting at best.

So, I turn to the wise teachers, the Mystics, who don’t ever speak of fearing God, but instead sing of being intimately intertwined with God, ecstatically in love with God and see no difference between the sacred and profane.

Everything is Holy.

Our mail carrier who blasts Fox News (white guy radio) in the mail truck that never fails to bring a treat for our dog Little Man, is holy.

The neighbor who tells us our yard, with little grass, but with ten raised beds, two large butterfly bushes, and several types of tall grasses, “looks like a jungle” is holy.

Who am I not to see everything and everyone as holy?

This is what the medicine of tenderness does. It is fierce and doesn’t dilute what I hold as my values, and it doesn’t erase boundaries, on the contrary, it is the foundation of sacred activism, fueling holy outrage, and channeling it with intention. Andrew Harvey defines it this way, “Sacred Activism is a transforming force of compassion-in-action that is born of a fusion of deep spiritual knowledge, courage, love, and passion, with wise radical action in the world.”

It is a radical act to practice tenderness.

It is a radical act to be so in love with the world, living with the awareness that all is holy.


Tenderness is potent medicine to churn all these seemingly opposing states of being together. The alchemic potency of tenderness redirects me to the awareness that everything exists in relationship.

Tenderness reminds me that I don’t have to have answers in the face of ongoing uncertainty, I only have to tend to my heart and offering that tending to those who I come into contact with, be it virtual or in person.

Tenderness isn’t intellectual, or rational and lies outside emotional sentimentality.

Tenderness is looking deeply into the wholeness of our own and others humanity without flinching at the pain and brokenness and refusing to turn away.

Tenderness in action to me looks like: singing a Leonard Cohen lyric, observing the first snowdrop blooming in February, playing the harp at the bedside of a person transitioning,  knitting a baby blanket for dear friends, making soup, singing little songs as medicine bundles, searching for and finding the holy in all places and spaces including prisons, hospitals and my neighborhood and sitting and breathing with other holy beings.

Heartfelt conversations that have space for deep listening and being heard and seen are tender. Working in activist spaces in my community with relationship building at the core of that work is very tender. Navigating complex family dynamics requires a great deal of tenderness for all parties. Transformative Justice work is fierce tenderness unfolding, and leaving healing in its wake.

Tenderness invites Belonging.

So this holiday, I offer you these words and invitation for you to explore tenderness as medicine for these times.



Here are two offerings:

YouTube Video of Celtic Harp Christmas Music played by me. I made this last year. I hope you find it supportive and also a curated playlist from Spotify.




Rachel Allen

Rachel Allen, B.A. Political Science/Sociology, is a Certified Music Practitioner, Sound Healer, Reiki Master, and Registered Yoga Teacher with a trauma informed/social justice framework. She has 20 years experience of working with some of the most amazing people on the planet; hospice patients and their families, patients in a variety of health conditions, survivors of sexual abuse, adults with mental illness and most recently, incarcerated women. Rachel is also passionate about supporting and working with caregivers to reduce burnout and compassion fatigue. Locally, Rachel teaches Creative Movement at Saint Francis University in Loretto, PA. Regionally and nationally, she teaches and presents at conferences and retreats, weaving live music, yoga, and creative movement into themes of compassion, self acceptance, and transformation. Rachel is committed to engaging people from all walks of life in the healing arts to create healthy, diverse, and joyful communities.