Voice and Vulnerability

My words are shy.

They fall off branches
stumble over stray rocks,
slip into cracks
and beg to be rescued.

We just met.

We’re all blush and beginning….

These lines begin the last stanza of BEGINNER, a poem written by one of the women who will be reading in two weeks at the Dance of the Letters Women’s Reading on Sunday, November 2 at 1:30 PM at the historic Munson Library in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Last week the nine women who will be reading and I got together to plan.  One of the things we discussed is vulnerability, the vulnerability of putting one’s voice in the world,  of being really visible and heard.

I shared some quotes about vulnerability, among them two from Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, and one from Paulo Coelho:

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.”   Brené Brown

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”   Brené Brown

“The strongest love is the love than can demonstrate its fragility.”  Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes

voice and vulnerabilityAt our meeting, I also shared an experience and lesson having to do with vulnerability that happened to me some years ago.  I had learned the night before a meditation center was to open, which I had helped to create, that the guest monk who was to welcome the large number of people attending thought it a better idea that I give the welcoming talk.  I extended my hand and said, “Someone who is shaking like this can’t welcome people to a meditation center.”

The monk’s reply, so kind and unforgettable, was that I was regarding my shaking hand as a reflection of nervousness– something I felt I had to push away.  But what if instead, I could see what I was calling “nervousness” as energy?  He encouraged me to ride the wave of that energy.  What if I believed it could support me, rather than judge it as an obstacle I had to overcome?  What if what I feared and resisted would actually add to my full presence and aliveness?

When have you befriended your vulnerability?

Was there a time that your vulnerability was your strength?


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