I decided to look it up, as I often do when a word captivates my imagination with the frequency of a mantra. I turned to my oldest dictionary, the one that has its own magnifying glass. It told me that in the first definition, the definition dating back to the 11th century, tender means “to hold out, offer, to stretch, hold forth – to offer or present formally for acceptance.” The second definition talks about money, so I pretty much skipped it. The third definition, the one my heart seemed most to seek, says tender means “to become tender, to be affected with pity, to grow soft, to soften; to render gentle or compassionate.”
As I scanned the tiny dictionary print, down one column and another looking at roots and countries of origin, first uses and verb forms, my mantra presented a task and a wish.
The task is to offer. To hold myself out, to stretch the modest gifts I can share, to hold forth something, anything helpful.
I translate this task into asking, to calling loved ones, to checking in, to talking more and longer, to saying “hey – how are you holding up?” in a way that invites an open answer, in a way that allows opportunities to help when help is wanted. In support of the social-distancing recommendations, I’ve significantly reduced in-person visits. Texting seems insufficient lately. In addition to wanting to hear my friends’ voices, I also want to see their faces. I’ve been using video chats more often than I used to use them. I don’t want to advance the pandemic, but I still want to be as close to my community as I can. The video chats help.
Recently, friends gave me a bottle of ketchup and a jar of canned applesauce from their cellar. I’d told them I was out of ketchup, and they know I love homemade applesauce. As I received those gifts, I was reminded that I’m going through the pandemic too.
But the task is to ask.
The wish? The wish is to become tender, to be affected with empathy, to grow soft, to soften. To press lightly where the injuries are. I want to slow things down, to be more patient, to remember every person I encounter is going through something they’ve never gone through before. The people I meet as I go about my day may be doing just fine, of course, but I hope I’ll remember that the people I encounter may be tired or anxious, afraid or wearing down, worried about the rent or grieving. What they will need, what all of us may need as we all go through this, is grace.
My wish for me, for you, for all of us is that we will be tender during these trying times, that we will offer what we have to offer, that we will go forward into this uncertainty together, taking the time to be gentle and compassionate – with each other and with ourselves.
About the Office of Student Affairs
Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA) is committed to the safety and wellness of our arts community. Although the Minnesota Department of Health has not as of this moment recommended canceling events, out of an abundance of caution and after many thoughtful conversations, we have decided to cancel our day on the hill and instead hold a VIRTUAL Arts Advocacy Day.
We are all practicing social distancing (something that comes naturally to most Minnesotans) but that doesn’t mean we can’t advocate for the arts. In the 2019 legislative session, the legislature passed an increase in state arts funding. (Yay!) We’re going to use Virtual Arts Advocacy Day to thank legislators for supporting arts funding. Your legislators need to know that their constituents support the arts. Please take five minutes here to thank them for continued arts funding, and let them know that when you invest in the arts, the Arts Give Back.
March 20, 2020
9:00am – 10:00am
Virtual Event Due to Coronavirus, we’ll be meeting virtually this month. This will be our first time hosting a virtual event, so please be patient with us. Register as usual, and we will email all attendees with details about how to join the virtual event on Friday morning. Please download & install Zoom before Friday – don’t worry, it’s free.
What will this event be like? CreativeMornings is still all about community and inspiration. Our virtual event will start at 9am with a welcome and announcements, then several short presentations from community members with discussion time. We’re excited for this opportunity to connect our community in a new way and get to know each other.
Interested in Presenting? We’re looking for a few people to present for 3-5 mins each on something related to Identity, creativity, or staying connected to community in these strange times. You tell us: what’s on your mind and heart? What do you want to talk about with the group? We’re not looking for plugs or commercials – think about connecting with the community. Fill out this form to apply.
Questions? Please let us know if you have other questions about the event: minneapolis [at] creativemornings.com
Michael’s story is part of Pollen’s “Are You OK?” initiative, a collection of stories, art, and virtual gatherings that documents how our collective community is processing and healing during the this global health and financial crisis. Check the collection regularly to hear from our creative community as we keep up with the changes and challenges before us.
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Last Updated: June 1, 2015
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Last Updated: June 1, 2015
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