The ministry of tears
When my sister died in 1993, I had three children, ages three, almost two, and a wee little three month old baby. They were each so little and all so in need of a functional mother. At one point in the days after Liz's death, a friend of mine shared a concern: "I don't think you are crying enough." At the time, I was hurt by her assessment. I felt pressured to do this grief thing right, and the idea of being a failure, on top of all the pain of losing my sister, was horrible.
The thing is I was convinced that if I started crying I might never stop, and then what would happen to my dear children? What if I could not care for them? And so it is true: I did not cry enough.
As I look back over the last seventeen years, I realize that what began in 1993 as a way of surviving and caring for my children has become a bad habit, an unhealthy thing. I have been unable to cry in a cleansing, cry-until-you-are-done sort of way since those dark days of 1993. That is way too long.
This last week has been very difficult for several reasons. In my distress, I reached out to a friend of mine, a monk I had met through friends, and he sent this advice to me:
"Shed tears, lots of them."
As I read those words, something in me cracked, broke, and opened wide. Tears are flowing, and it is a very good thing.
The ministry of tears, my own tears, is a gift I didn't know to ask for. It was a freedom that had so long been denied that I could not offer it to myself, but it was a great gift to be given permission to simply cry. Now in sorrow and in worry I can feel the balm of the Holy Spirit washing over me, healing me, bringing me hope in the midst. It is so good to be crying again.
In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
What do blue bottles have to do with tears? See my post here.