Tears... When did it become easier for them to flow? I do not remember doing a lot of crying while I was growing up. Unless you count the ones that were used to manipulate my parents, (“Mom, my brother is pinching me!” “Mom, make him stop bothering me”). Being the smallest and being a girl could have its advantages.
I think the faucet started turning on when I got married. I can distinctly remember crying while my friend, Ellen, sang at my wedding to Mike. I had given Mike a few tissues to stuff in his jacket pocket "just in case". I remember him looking over at me and upon seeing my tears he quietly slipped his hands into his pocket, retrieved a tissue, and unbeknownst to our guests, passed it over to me. Happy tears. I have shed tears at nearly every wedding I’ve attended since then.
After having children those tears came more easily. Tears of joy over the birth of a child, tears of anger when frustrated by their behavior, tears of anguish when they were hurt by others. I shed tears as I sing lullabies to my granddaughters. Soft, intimate moments with those precious children.
Tears of despair, of disappointment, I've had my share of those especially lately. Wanting something so desperately that when it falls apart and slips away from reach sends tears cascading down my face.
Tears of loss, those are the hardest. While some of those tears are over the loss itself, most often it is tears of sorrow for the family and friends left behind. Tears of empathy. I know what they are going through, and I relieve my own losses. It doesn't matter whether I know the person well or not - still, the tears come.
When things touch my heart, I shed tears. There are certain songs that make me cry. Mostly Christian songs... or certain hymns. Music is in my soul and those songs reach in and tug at my most inner thoughts, desires, and prayers. They remind me that I am not in control of my destiny. There is someone much greater than me. In those moments, my spirit succumbs to that power and my vulnerable self surfaces. He knows me as I am. He loves me as I am. That is powerful
I cry when singing "Silent Night with the throngs of worshippers in a dimly lit sanctuary on Christmas Eve. Why? I am not altogether sure. Perhaps it is the tenderness of the song coupled with the fact that I am with people I love dearly and am also remembering people who are no longer here to celebrate the holiday. I also am deeply moved when the Lords' Prayer is whispered or sung with the congregation. Soft, intimate worship experiences.
When people touch our hearts, we cry as well. George is learning that there are so many people out there praying for him, thinking of him. He receives notes and cards from people he doesn't even know very well. He cries because this humbles him. He is grateful for each of those thoughts and prayers. He cannot imagine why all these people are praying for him, why he deserves such beautiful gestures.
Like many people, I prefer to shed my tears in private. They might flow in the calm, stillness of the night while the rest of the world is asleep, dripping quietly on my pillow. They might flow while I sit at my computer listening to music or writing words that yearn to be on a printed page. It is rare that I show this vulnerable self to others. I know it should not bother me, but it does. Needing to put on strong front, knowing I can absolutely be strong - but even the strongest of the strong have weak points, weak moments when there are cracks that break open and spew out much like a volcano erupts from all the pressures of the earth.
We have shed many tears these past few weeks – anger, frustration, despair, humility, fear, relief. You name it, we’ve reacted to it, and often with tears. But tears can be healing, they can be cleansing. Tears allows some of the pressure to be relieved. Tears are a necessary part of our lives.
[This piece was written in 2014.]