“Hope…comes through our tears, as the soft summer rain,
To beautify, bless, and make joyful again.”
- Mary Baker Eddy
Dear Maria, in a recent comment, you gently asked if I would post something on “tears”… Hmmm…. I can’t think of a subject I feel more experienced in addressing.
If James Taylor songs, like song "Carolina in My Mind," it have been the soundtrack of my life…tears have been the environmental constant. I must thrive, spiritually, in salt-water. I have become so accustomed to the feeling of tears filling my eyes, running down my cheeks, pooling in my ears, and falling on my shirt that I have long, long, long since abandoned wearing mascara, buying silk shirts that show tell-tale salt stains or thinking that I could fool anyone into thinking that it was “just something in my eye”.
That said, I have also had a very special journey in making peace with my tears. When I was younger I thought that my tears were a sign of weakness. I thought that they made me appear fragile, vulnerable or emotionally out of control. I tried to staunch them with inner grit and with a spiritual resolve to “not let anything get to me”…but, to little or no avail. I cried when I was happy, sad, moved, hurt…I cried at movies, family reunions, arguments, Hallmark commercials and angry words. I cried when I felt overwhelmed by life and I cried when life was good. I cried when I needed rest and just wanted to exhaust my thoughts from spinning out of control. I cried whenever I thought about those things that made me humbly grateful for the abundance of divine mercy, grace, wisdom or inspiration I was experiencing. But still my tears somehow made me feel weak and vulnerable.
That was until one morning when my eldest daughter was about eighteen months old. She had been up all night with a raging fever that would abate briefly…I would feel some modicum of peace, fall into an exhausted sleep, only to awaken suddenly to her disoriented thrashing or a listless incoherence.
By morning I was on the verge of mother-madness. I felt helpless and powerless to bring any sense of deep inner poise to bear on the moment, and hopelessness was seeping in around the edges of my spiritual fortress.
As I sat there on the edge of my daughter’s little bed with my Bible in my lap, my tears welled up and spilled onto the page I had been reading from. I was desperately grasping for something that would ground my prayers. At one point I wiped my eyes and looked back to the page that was open in front of me. I was stunned to see that the print was, quite literally, magnified by a large teardrop that had fallen onto the page and was still pooled on the paper. These words, from 1st John:
“There is no fear in love…”
were larger because of my tears. The teardrop had acted as a magnifying glass to emphasize the power of this statement. I was stopped in my tracks in more ways than one. . I knew...I was sure...no, I was absolutely certain about how much I loved my daughter…in fact up until that very moment, I thought that I was afraid because I loved my daughter. But what the Word (the Bible) was saying, from underneath that teardrop, was that because I loved my daughter I was not afraid. These two things were mutually exclusive. I could not have both. I could not love and be afraid…anymore than I could have light and darkness at the same time.
My tears were NOT tears of fear at all…they were tears of great love. I could reclaim them for God and recast my feelings in the light of that love…that all powerful, divinely bestowed affection that I could never have created myself, even in my most inspired moment.
I was certain of what was true…I loved her…therefore I had to be certain that I wasn’t afraid…I had just misread the feeling. I could correctly claim that feeling as one of humble gratitude for God’s presence in my life revealing itself as tenderness, loyalty, affection, and joy….immediately. And I did.
Hannah’s healing, like many others throughout her childhood came without incidence when I realized that the feelings that I had misinterpreted as fear…were really love…deep, humbling, unsettling, knee-buckling, trusting, heart-expanding love…the presence of God in my life.
This was also the end of my disquiet about my tears…or anyone else’s for that matter.
I love my tears. I love to be moved. I love to weep, to cry, to let the tears of feeling flow through and around and over me. Washing away the cobwebs of intellectualism, letting the salt left in their wake, dry up the undefined uncertainties of “what if”, and magnify the power of “the Word” in my life with the experiential certainty of not having just known, but actually felt God move my heart to surrender all that it had left to give, in order to wash His feet in gratitude.
“Saw ye my Savior ?
Heard ye the glad sound?
Felt ye the power of the Word?”
-Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy has taught me to associate my tears with the presence of God, with the presence of hope and faith…the “triune” of love.
K (and J)