A writing expert and colleague said, “your voice is either fiercely sensitive or sensitively fierce.”
Her feedback stopped me in my tracks. I hadn’t thought of myself as “fierce.” Pay attention! an inner witness said. There’s something in “fierce” for you to see.
Fierce can mean aggressive, but it can also refer to a heartfelt and powerful intensity. The “sensitive” part of the feedback was easy to own. I know that quality in myself. But “fierce?” The more I looked at it, the more I saw it, everywhere, past and present! Fierce feels true, like a note on pitch.
My spirit is fierce and sensitive, and it permeates my body. When my daughter was an infant, she wailed for me one morning with her “I’m awake, Momma, where are you?” cry. I swept into her nursery, scooped a down blanket off the bed to drape around my shoulders and picked her up out of her crib. We settled together in a rocking chair, wrapped in our white down cocoon. I expected a sweet, sleepy nursing session, but something mysterious and big happened.
“Momma’s here, sweetheart,” I said. Her tiny form molded around my body. Her rosebud lips suctioned to my full, luscious breast. She smelled of milk, baby pee, lotion, and the scent of Laura. As soon as I’d heard her cry, my milk had let down and begun to leak from my nipples. The sensation registered like a tickle deep in my breasts. It signaled that the lake of motherly goodness hidden in my body had broken the dam on cue and ran sweet like a stream to satisfy her aching hunger.
I marveled at the perfection of our bodies as I watched the early spring sun filter through the sage green brocaded curtains, bought on sale, that would have been perfect if they had just been a little bit bluer. The soft light dappled by the leaves of the oak tree outside the window, waltzed on the cream-colored wall above the crib.
I dropped out of time and entered a reverie. I watched the small muscles in my daughter’s pale cheeks ripple and go concave as she drank. With each of her sucks, I felt love flow out of me into the tiny mystery of her body. She was part of me. I was part of her. I swear I felt the aliveness of every cell, hers, and mine. We were the arc of the moon in a starry night, the sweep of the blazing sun, the exquisite dance of a universe in motion. I vanished into a vast, wide, deep beingness, a swelling of the heart until there was no physical boundary between us. It was a fiercely sensitive and sensitively fierce revelation of oneness.
Tears dripped down my face and I stroked her cheek, “I love you to the moon and back, sweet pea.” Sensitive, yeah. Fierce, yeah. Motherhood and breast feeding brought a natural, effortless elevation of my conscious awareness that all of life is spiritual and that our ability to perceive this comes through a human body.
After such an experience, how can I look away when immigrant children are living in cages just a few hundred miles south of where I am, on the border? After such an experience, how can I not weep as a black man cries, “mama” while a cop kneels on his trachea and extinguishes his life? After such an experience, how can I not ache for every woman’s rape, every man’s addiction and every child’s stomach that contracts and growls in hunger. These things are not outside of me, they are felt IN me. I can’t look away from them nor do I want to — to do that would deny my soul, the reason I’m here.
Sometimes so-called spiritual teachings make my eyes cross. Sometimes spiritual teachings seem arid, vapid and dry. Sometimes spiritual teachings seem too darn complex. Sometimes spiritual teachings bleed the life out of spirituality. Sometimes the way people interpret spiritual teachings to suit their religious beliefs, to justify exclusion, violence, hatred, lack of mercy and self-righteous judgment sets my teeth on edge.
Fierce sensitivity and sensitive fierceness save me from the intellectual stratosphere when it comes to many things, especially spiritual understanding. I relish the God of my breastfeeding experience. I relish the God of feeling in the drumbeat of life that sings and percusses the heart bond of mothering and, lately, the heart bond of grandmothering. I relish the God that cries out in orgasm. I relish the God that suffers with others — the God of liberation. I relish the God I find in the form of the natural world. I collect the jewels of God in all the bits of sensual heaven that I’ve found on earth. I wear them in my heart like a proud tiara. And make no mistake, some of them were forged in the fire of human hell.
The felt sense of the spirit runs fierce and sensitive for me. Fierce sensitivity and sensitive fierceness? I’ll claim them. They keep me tethered to humanity, to embodied love.
Copyright 2020: Linda Sandel Pettit, Ed.D.
Dr. Linda Sandel Pettit, a priestess-at-heart and retired counseling psychologist, can be found at www.thedrspettit.com. Linda loves putting her intuitive nature, spiritual understanding and clinical experience in service to others. She is available for on-line or phone psychospiritual and intuitive conversations. For information about fees and packages, visit BOOK NOW. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or fee assistance.