Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Tears

We have reflected some time ago on the blessedness of the mourners who, says the Lord, shall be comforted. But mourning isn't merely for the sake of seeking comfort, and tears aren't only for mourning.

The gift of tears is highly prized in Eastern Christianity, especially in monastic milieux. It is a gift because these tears are not merely the self-generated product of overwrought emotion. These tears come from the Holy Spirit as an expression of repentence and love (and even of intercession, as when Jesus wept and prayed over Jerusalem; Lk 19:41ff). They come spontaneously and may or may not be accompanied by emotion. The gift of tears can also be a manifestation of joy and thanksgiving, as an expression beyond words. When the presence of God is felt, when we begin to realize something of his love and goodness toward us, tears may be the only response that is even remotely adequate.

To weep is also to come near to the Heart of Jesus, pierced by the sins of mankind, and to love with his wounded love. It is to recognize how far we have fallen from God's dream of beauty, harmony, and love for his whole creation. Tears are a sign that we're beginning to see clearly, beginning to return.

Once again, Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis expresses it beautifully: "The fruit called for [by John the Baptizer] must grow from the fertile moisture of a crushed heart, from the irrigation of tears that flow from the melting glacier of a haughty mind... Our existence must become one continuous flowing toward others and to God. Repentance is the heat that melts us so that we can start moving, since where there is no movement there is no life. And this precious movement constituted by the water of our tears is the irrigation that fertilizes the tree of our will, that it may yield the fruit of good works" (italics in original).

And Leon Bloy says: "When you die, that is what you take with you: the tears you have shed and the tears you have caused to be shed, your capital of bliss and of terror. It is on these tears that we shall be judged, for the Spirit of God is always 'borne upon the waters' "[see Genesis 1:2]. The Spirit hovering over the primordial waters signifies the beginning of creation. So Leiva-Merikakis adds: "Wherever there is weeping, there is God. The water of our tears invites him to create a new world within ourselves."

What can I add? "Amen!"