The Rapidian

Sensitivity

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A Princess is born! (Photo courtesy of Jewly Warren, Photographer)

A Princess is born! (Photo courtesy of Jewly Warren, Photographer)

This is the third in a series of eight brief reflections written by Sister Mary Navarre, OPA long-time teacher and thought-provoking poetic writer, Sister Mary is a member of the Leadership Team of the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids. 

Folk and fairy tales contain truths that have been handed down through countless generations, and the truth of the sensitive person (the third talent for living in community) is told in the tale, The Princess and the Pea.

The prince is able to identify the authentic princess because of her exquisite sensitivity - in this case - to the pea under the bottom mattress in the pile. This contrivance makes up the test of her true royal self. Far from a tale of the finickiest, this story is a tale of the person who is being true to herself and feels discomfort no matter how many layers are piled on the irritant.  In the morning, she speaks her truth of a restless night and will not ignore the bruising reality of the small but intolerable pea no matter how thickly padded to conceal its presence.

 Sensitivity is not often praised in our culture and many children have heard the admonition: "Don't be so sensitive." And yet it is an extraordinary sensitivity to sound and pitch that births the musician; to color and light, texture and composition that creates the artist; to nuance of word and meaning that marks the writer. In communities, the maturely sensitive person perceives the emotions of the moment and names the pea gently and truthfully to strengthen the bonds of the group.

The sensitive person incorporates the first two talents for living well in community, that of listening deeply and speaking truthfully. Her sensitivity sharpens her ability to listen with a compassionate heart, and it tempers her speech to speak truth in a tactful manner that does not slice, but rather yields insight.

Such is the third talent for living in community - it is in the smallest, day to day details that community, friendship and marriages are strengthened or dissolved. Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, over-control, withdrawal and sarcasm are some of the peas that cause discomfort and eventually animosity.

If you are the sensitive person, or you live, work or know one - you are fortunate indeed. Naming the pea can be the path to kindness, generosity, forgiveness, patience and understanding. What do you think?

submitted by: Rosemary M. Steers, Communications Specialist || Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids

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