The gift of tears
The ancients talked about the “gift of tears,” the grace of sorrow for sin. Sin is not a popular concept these days, and sorrow is even more suspect in this culture. “We don’t sin; we make mistakes,” the respondents to a study of contemporary Christian beliefs report. We do not, the modern version holds, need to weep either for our own brokenness or the damage we have done to others because, unfortunate as it may be, it was beyond our conscious control.
But we are wrong. Weeping is very holy and life-giving. It sounds alarms for a society and wisens the soul of the individual. Ecclesiastes may be nowhere more correct than here. There is definitely “a time for weeping.” If we do not weep on the personal level, we shall never understand humanity around us. If we do not weep on the public level, we are less than human ourselves.
As a result of thinking like that, we simply limp along from “mistake” to “mistake,” taking responsibility for little and having concern for less. In the end, then, we may fail to identify the patterns in our lives that have us retracing ourselves in a series of steadily decreasing circles until we stand trapped in our own unreflective and unrewarding behaviors. We ignore the call to holiness in ourselves that consistent and constant struggle invites us to require. Worse, we ignore the effects of our lack of ethical principles on others.
To have the “gift of tears” is to have the heart to care about what we do to others, to have the conscience to care about what we have done to destroy creation, to have the commitment to self to care —from For Everything A Season by Joan Chittister (Orbis)about what we have done to our bodies and our minds in the name of “freedom.”
For those who develop the spirituality of weeping, life becomes a place of honest assessment and humble achievements, of keen love and desperate losses. Life matters to those who weep. Life goes on from moment to moment with an eye to loss, a heart for change, and a soul that craves justice and joy with the passion of desert land for water.
—from For Everything A Season by Joan Chittister (Orbis)