Framing my desk is a wall of poetry and three quotes—one from a friend, one from a book and one from Shakespeare. They’re words that stretch my field of vision on cloudy days.
But the Shakespeare one has been nagging at me lately. Is it true? Should it be true? Would I want it to be true of me?
My answer used to be automatic. Yes. Absolutely, let it be said of me: “And though she be but little, she is fierce.”
It conjures an image of strength and feistiness. A scrappy soul.
And that seemed like a good thing. A resilient, little fighter.
But . . . when did life devolve to battling, to winning, to success being reduced to not failing?
The language started chafing when my grandma was journeying her final nineteen months. Why was she pushed to “beat” pneumonia? Why was a “fighting spirit” the highest praise? It rubbed me wrong that instead of celebrating her nine decades of grace and humor we championed a war against aging.
And as countless people I love—and people loved by people I love—are diagnosed with cancer or face other progressive challenges, the language is instantly one of battle. But isn’t life more than fighting death?
The line ran through my head again this morning as a friend prepares for a double mastectomy and another friend’s dad is imprisoned overseas and my own dad is confined to a hospital bed. No, I thought, I don’t want to be boiled down to ferocity. Unless the sentence continues.
May I be fiercely truthful, fiercely compassionate, fiercely loyal.
May I be fiercely present.
May I be fiercely hopeful and fiercely prayerful.
May I be fiercely courageous in locking arms with my people in the good and the hard.
And though I be but little, may I be fierce . . . in love.