Crying is a gift? To many of us that might seem rather contraindicated (considering runny mascara, red rimmed eyes & emotional turbulence) but the Gift of Tears is actually considered a charism of the Holy Spirit. Many saints (especially those known for deep spirituality) had this gift.
Remember Jesus wept over the death of his friend, Lazarus.
This gift, described as the “washing of the soul,” often goes part & parcel with the healing process. If the sheer volume of tears then counts, my soul should be really clean & my heart should be really healed.
It’s been six weeks exactly since March 8th, the day my Papa died. We cried buckets of tears in the hospital that day, reciting Psalm 23 amidst our tears as his suffering subsided. My Mama coming in while his heart was still beating to tearfully grab his hand & say, “Dick, it’s me, I love you…” Hers, the last voice he heard. My stoic brother, who helped take care of him for 13 years, sobbing on my sister’s shoulder.
He’s gone. Our Papa is gone. … And our tears flow on.
We are glad that his suffering is over & that he is resting in the Everlasting Arms of God – but we miss him. LOTS. … And our tears flow on.
Even when it seems no tears could possibly be left after we reach the dry heaves of weeping, something will happen … And our tears flow on.
Returning from the hospital that Saturday my tear reservoir was spent, but as family & friends gathered a few sputtered out. Later that evening while putting away things, I found a bag of Papa’s clothes hastily packed before jumping in the ambulance the day before – the last time my brother picked out something that didn’t match, so as the Fashion Consultant who selected Papa’s clothing every morning I had grabbed something nice for him to wear when he came home from the hospital.
Huge sobs wracked my poor worn out heart. … And my tears flowed on.
Later that week while on a mission in downtown Williamsburg to acquire black Birkenstocks for Papa’s funeral (& the misbehaving ankle that wouldn’t fit in my black pumps) I encountered a darling 4-year old girl. “Hi, my name is Maya.” As her mother went upstairs to find my shoe size, this little girl proclaimed, “I will ALWAYS love my Daddy.” With her big blue eyes looking right in mine, she continued, “I will, I really will!”
Papa always said I was the only one who called him “Daddy.” Like Maya, I will also always, always, love my Daddy. … And my tears flowed on.
Even yesterday while at the store picking out Easter Basket treats I reached for Papa’s favorite Russell Stover Sugar-Free Chocolate Covered marshmallow eggs. … And my tears flowed on.
The gift of tears is not something I asked God for, but it seems at times He lets our cries draw us closer to His Heart that beats with love for us & for all. Not just as we mourn our loved ones, but as our hearts are broken by the suffering around us & within us: God’s agape, everlasting love is, it is, always here for us.
Yesterday was Good Friday & tomorrow is Easter, so here’s something for our minds & hearts to ponder:
“The mystery of the Cross can only be understood, a little bit, by kneeling, in prayer, but also through tears… All of us have felt joy, sadness and sorrow in our lives; have we wept during the darkest moment? Have we had that gift of tears that prepare the eyes to look, to see the Lord? We are a society that has forgotten the experience of weeping, of ‘suffering with’; the globalization of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep. We can ask the Lord for the gift of tears … it prepares us to see Jesus.” Pope Francis
The Gift of Tears is not just about sorrow – even beauty and joy elicit tears. On my first trip home while working in the Middle East, someone asked, “why are you crying?” My response? “Everything is so GREEN!”… when my daily view of the desert around Bethlehem was brown, brown, brown. (Ok, so maybe there was also a little stress stored up in those tear ducts.)
Stress can make us cry, too. Copiously loud tears of frustration.
But, maybe as we cry them (once past the ranting phase), genuine tears will help cleanse our souls, washing us free from angst-inducing doldrums.
Two weeks ago I cried my way through a book that’s been on my Sci-Fi ‘to-read’ list for a long time: “The Ship Who Sang” by Anne McCaffrey. My tears flowed to the very last page where the traditional military requiem of Taps is heard as a new beginning:
“Day is done.
Gone the sun.
From the sea, from the land, from the sky.
All is well.
Rest in peace,
God is nigh!”
grace, peace & new Gifts