Bravery in Being Soft: A Letter from Hannah
"To my sisters in the Vineyard -
Let me start out this letter by saying the one thing want you to take away from my story:
there is bravery in being soft.
My name is Hannah, I have lived in the gloriously simple Midwest for my whole life, and there are only a few things in life that I love more than dachshunds, Bialetti stovetop coffee, early mornings, and St. Bonaventure. On any given day, you can find me with a whirlwind of philosophical musings on the brain, a Moleskine sketchpad in my hand, and a song on my lips.
But, peculiarly, I did not always think that there was bravery in being soft. In fact, I was always terrified of and humiliated by my sensitivity.
I began to hate being soft.
A year ago, I watched my cousin's newborn baby for around 8 hours every day for the duration of the summer. Day after day, the sunlight shone through the window onto baby Gavin's little cherubic face, and gradually, the ice that l had built up around my heart began to thaw.
Comforting him when he was crying. looking into his little eyes as he stared up into my face, and gradually watching him go row in his ability recognize my face when he would wake up from a nap and break into a smile changed me radically as a woman.
I learned that there is bravery in being soft. That it's not something to be ashamed of It's okay to squeal over the preciousness of a small child, to be sensitive when the world is abrasive, to be vulnerable when others have their walls up, and to cry over things that are worth your tears.
There's bravery in being soft. Let's make the choice to be brave today.
In the Tender Heart of Jesus -
Get to know Hannah
Hannah is a 21-year-old theology & philosophy masters student, the administrative coordinator of the Hildebrand Project and a nanny. You can keep up with her ventures at her blog Tilling the Garden.
What do the first two hours of your day look like?
This question is actually so exciting for me to answer, because my “typical morning" is one of the most revolutionary changes I have made to my routine in 2017. I used to function as a complete night owl, and then get up as late as feasibly possible the next morning. After YEARS of building the habits of hitting my snooze button at least a dozen times and scrambling with my coffee and a muffin on my way out the door, I began to wonder how different my whole day (and by extension, my entire life) would look like if I got up early enough to spend my quiet mornings with the Lord. Now, I can safely say that my quiet, still mornings are my favorite part of the day. I usually wake up approximately 2-3 hours before I need to be somewhere for the day. My first priority, obviously, is to make my coffee. Then I sit in my PJs with my coffee, light a candle, and start my day listening to praise/worship music. I usually just sit through the first few songs, sipping my coffee in silence, spending that time in mental prayer. After my life-saving cup of coffee is gone, I go on with my usual grooming/dressing routine, still listening to worship music. I think making the conscious choice to wake up early and start every day off with songs of praise has changed the way that I see my days. It’s a little more natural to be virtuous and make the most of my day once I have already promised to give the remainder of my day to God. If I have any extra time before my first class of the day, I treat my self to a little Pinterest browsing (classic).
What's your favorite part of being a student?
For me, the greatest gift I’ve been given by studying both Theology and Philosophy is the range of people that I have encountered as a result. Studying Theology and Philosophy draws a particular kind of person; people who are usually deep thinkers who are sensitive and open to the divine and the transcendent. They are typically people who appreciate the arts and the classics — they recognize true beauty when it hits them in the face. Theology and Philosophy students (and professors!) are reflective, insightful, and interesting people to be around. In short, I never knew that so many people existed in the world who are interested in the same kinds of things that excite me (particularly when I encounter other Philosophy students). The hearts of other Theologians and Philosophers are kindred spirits, for sure. There’s a certain camaraderie that I love.
Name one fear that keeps you up at night.
As mortifying as it can be to admit, I fear ending up alone. I think it’s probably one of the only things that I can say I am truly afraid of. I desire marriage and motherhood so much, and I think as women, one of the major temptations is to doubt the goodness of God, to doubt providence, to doubt that He will provide for us a future filled with hope.
When was the first time you experienced a strong sense of belonging in the Catholic Church?
I can’t think of my first specific memory of feeling that sense of “belonging” in the Church, but growing up, I had the honor of becoming very close to a couple of my parish priests throughout the years. These young priests were fresh out of seminary, and Jesus’s Heart just shone right through their love. Their attentiveness to my little heart, needs, and prayers was tender and father-like, and they definitely showed me that our priests are here for us the same way a Father is there for his precious children. The Church is a family. And I’m so blessed to have been shown this from such a young age by so many holy men.
Tell us about a woman you look up to.
While I could go on for hours and hours about how my mother and grandmother have been such witnesses to me of femininity, stay-at-home motherhood, and constant intercession in the midst of redemptive suffering, the example of a woman I aspire to be like who initially comes to mind is the example of one of my Professors. She taught me what it is to be a woman in the midst of a male-dominated field; how to have grace and poise in the midst of aggressive persecution. I think the most important lesson that I have taken away from her example is that being bold and outspoken is not at odds in any way with being feminine. She, to me, is like a modern Joan of Arc. She has a strength that is distinctly feminine, and it’s something that I really aspire to. I think one can be strong and soft at the same time, and my Professor definitely embodies this womanly power.
Favorite character ever. Go!
By far my favorite literary character is the portrayal of Virgil in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The bond of trust and safety that is forged between Dante and Virgil is so beautiful — reminiscent of the Scriptural friendship between David and Jonathan. I sob every time I get to the part where they finally part ways. It’s heart-wrenching.