A Tender New Year

As we pass over the threshold between years
I hope for you, tenderness;
that you become tenderness.

Tender with your longings,
tender with the things that are still impossible.

May you hold grief in your hand like a tender shoot.
May impatience break apart into rich soil.
May you honour and be touched by the earth.

May your heart close each day and each evening
with gratitude and concern
around doctors, nurses, health tenders,
pouring themselves out,
“one life/ one life/ one life/one life/one life”.

May you hold them each day in the small flower of your prayer.
May you breathe in their work.

May you be tender too with the rawness of injustices
revealed, perpetrated, structured,
again, and again, and again.
“one life/ one life/ one life/one life/one life”.
May you be fiercely tender
Enough that you may be penetrated;
Shaped into meaningful response.

May you be tender with children
with those who are seeing their dreams
or their dignity slip away

With those who are afraid or angry
may you be porous and sheltering as marshes.

With those who are careless or malign
may your tenderness be as resilience and resistance

May you become tenderness

In this new year,
I hope for you.

Catherine Smith © 2021

The quotation, “one life/ one life/ one life/one life” is from Padraig O’Tuama’s poem, “The Pedagogy of Conflict”.  Originally published in Sorry for your Troubles (Canterbury Press, 2013).


  1. Pix Butt on January 7, 2021 at 4:36 pm

    So much here to chew on Catherine…. some words that hold a PUNCH… and some that melt as mind and heart are brought together… thank you for another powerful piece.

    • Catherine Smith on January 11, 2021 at 8:28 am

      May you find the ‘punch’ and melting of words as needed in the coming days, Pix.

  2. Shirley Childs on January 2, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    Many of these lines speak volumes to me and invite an opening to a softer path.

    • Catherine Smith on January 4, 2021 at 10:25 am

      I’m glad, Shirley. A softer path is not always an easy one to take but we can dispose ourselves toward it and know its vital gifts.

  3. Kerry Howarth on January 2, 2021 at 7:56 am

    Oh and I love the dragonfly image, Catherine! At first glance it looks frozen but I’m thinking it is dew. Just lovely. <3

    • Catherine Smith on January 4, 2021 at 10:17 am

      I imagined it as dew. Not exactly a winter image but it sometimes seemed to capture both the strength and the delicacy of tenderness.

  4. Kerry Howarth on January 2, 2021 at 7:45 am

    Penetrate….such a powerful word, seldom used in context such as this. Thank you again, Catherine, for your words that take us out of our common understanding to a realm of new possibilities. <3

    • Catherine Smith on January 4, 2021 at 10:15 am

      The marshes are a good place to ponder the word penetrate; a good place to sense more of what it might mean. I’m so glad you noticed, Kerry.

  5. John Simons on January 1, 2021 at 5:15 pm

    I’m trying to like this but it won’t register.

    • Catherine Smith on January 1, 2021 at 8:48 pm

      I’m not sure why this is the case. I’ll check on it.

  6. Ara Parker on January 1, 2021 at 12:53 am

    Beautiful and inspiring.

    • Catherine Smith on January 1, 2021 at 8:07 am

      May it be a help as we wend our way into this new year. Thank you ~

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