Tending To The Tender Hearts

July 7, 2021

Melodi Lewis, our summer intern, had the opportunity to sit and talk with Taylor in June after an intimate concert she gave for InSpero.

A tender heart is rare in today’s harsh world. Our friend, singer-songwriter Taylor Leonhardt talked with Melodi about choosing to keep her heart and art tender.

"It takes courage to allow someone to truly see us."

Images Captured by Emily Kicklighter

As a fellow songwriter, Taylor impressed me with her passion for choosing to be authentic and vulnerable. Listening to her song “When You Open Your Mouth” allowed me to connect and hear some of her deepest fears; “I am just as stubborn as I’m scared, that no one really gets me and nobody really cares.”

This open heart is evident in her EPs and albums as well. “Lights Gone Out,” a single Leonhardt released in 2019, talks about the journey of choosing healing to face a future filled with faith instead of fear. Her music rings true to the nature of human longing—to know each other for who we are.

Maybe, like me, you’ve experienced the rush of relief when you take that step and you’re not judged. When people see your true self and don’t reject you. In contrast, think about the disappointment you experience when you unveil your heart and in return are ignored or misunderstood.

But as I spoke with Taylor, I realized the bigger challenge is what is lost in refusing the way of a tender heart. What happens when we close our hearts to people and the world around us? When we do not fully show up as ourselves in the art we create or the art we receive, we deprive ourselves and others of a rich experience with the creative process and the creator. Taylor shows us tenderness is worth the risk.

When we begin to tell the stories that draw from the tender places within us, the art becomes limitless. Wendell Berry, one of Taylor’s favorite authors, says this about art and storytelling, “Telling a story is like reaching into a granary full of wheat and drawing out a handful. There is always more to tell than can be told.” When we open our hearts, creativity becomes more than just a song, phrase, picture, or painting. It transforms into a glimpse of something truer. Vulnerability is where art, light, and hope often meet us. Authentic art requires the risk of tenderness.

Taylor sets her heart on display as she grapples with the stories in her life. For her audience, her words settle like a comforting embrace from a friend, evoke the emotions often ignored or hidden away, and draw the listener to dig deeper into relationships with themselves and others. The risk she takes by being honest in her music allows for glimpses of light and truth to splay through her storytelling. They create deep bonds with her audience.

Vulnerability is contagious. In moments of hurt and pain, we see the tender hearts believing more and partaking in actions that grow their community towards true and beautiful healing.

Neglecting the way of vulnerability leaves your community without the chance to grow into tenderness with you. Because Taylor writes honestly and courageously, she helps free others from bonds of self-preservation and self-consciousness. She invites others into the freedom of communing with themselves and art in tenderness. Tending to tender hearts is realized when empathy acts as its foundation.

Images Captured by Emily Kicklighter

InSpero longs to foster these sacred spaces of vulnerability between artists and receivers. We long for tenderhearted artists to find each other and flourish as they create. For those doing the hard and courageous work, we commend you for your vulnerability. We see healing and light restored through the things you create. And for those who can’t yet be vulnerable or those who have been hurt, we desire to be a haven for your healing and space for the tending of your heart.

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