Friday, February 14, 2014

Tender Hearts

"Spring is in the Air"
-cacti blooming in my garden-

Yesterday as I sat in the "waiting room" at my doctor's office, I looked up at the elderly couple sitting across from me.  They both appeared to be quite frail. Their faces were lined with age -  probably in their 80's or early 90's.  The man needed the assistance of a "walker" to get around.  However, the thing I most noticed about that couple wasn't their frailty or their age. What caught my attention was that as they sat together, they were holding hands. 

I couldn't help but stare and smile witnessing that scene of such gentle affection.  The woman saw me looking at them, and she returned my smile saying, "we've been married for 64 years and can you believe it, we still hold hands."  At that, we all had a good chuckle, and then their names were called to  see the doctor. 

As they got up from their seats, they were a little wobbly, but hand-in-hand, they helped each other through the doors. Suddenly my eyes filled up with tears at the privilege of having been allowed to witness such an exquisitely beautiful scene of tender affection - and all this just before Valentine's Day.

I'm often a bit cynical and rather jaundiced when it comes to celebrating Valentine's Day - all the chocolate hearts, cards and flowers and candle-lit dinners are sometimes a bit too commercialized for my tastes.   

But yesterday that frail elderly couple "holding hands" in a waiting room softened up my stoney heart, making me think that maybe, from time to time we all need a Valentine's Day to help remind us of the importance of tenderness and affection as we make our journey through the wilderness of life.

As I sit in my garden on this Valentine's Day, I think about that word, "tenderness." It's not a word I hear a lot anymore. Maybe it sounds too "soft" in a culture that prides itself on being hard, and strong, rugged and individualistic. 

But the truth is that when we get inside the defensive walls we all put up as protection against the "slings and arrows" of everyday life, and when we scrape away the outer crustiness of hard and stoney hearts, there is a tender heart in each one of us. 

We are all gentle spirits who can only "make it"  through the wilderness of life by holding hands together -  helping one another to "get through the doors." 

As I sit in my garden on this Valentine's Day, I look at a pot filled with desert cacti. It's springtime here - perhaps the most beautiful season of all out here in the wilderness with the crystal clear, pristine skies, gentle breezes and moderate temperatures. 

Everything is starting to go into bloom - bushes on the desert floor are turning green. Everywhere you look, wildflowers are springing up and the trees along the wilderness trails are just beginning to bud. 

And, oh yes, the cacti are beginning to bloom - my favorites in the desert Springtime.  

Cacti are harsh, prickly, spiky and pretty ugly on the surface. If you touch them you can receive a painful sting and sometimes even be poisoned.  But beneath the surface, the cacti are the most beautiful of all. In the Springtime, tenderly beautiful flowers blossom out of that hard prickly exterior.  In the Springtime, the cacti show you who they really are. 

As I sit in my garden on this Valentine's Day, I bask in the beauty of the budding cacti. I want to be like them. A man with a tender heart willing to let it  bloom.

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