Thursday, June 7, 2007

Tears and the Last Person You'd Want

I am realizing how hard it is for me to just cry ... just cry and not judge that I should not be crying so much, not wonder what pathology my too-frequent weepfests may be symptoms of, not imagine what the perfect person would do and say if he or she were with me in my pain. It's all just mental gymnastics as a way of avoiding the simple, unadultered grief of loss, and the reality that there is nothing to do but feel it.

Alone with my midnight thoughts I realize how often tears are an opening for something else. When in pain, God is often the first person I blame. He is the source of the suffering, the one whose world seems hopelessly unjust and terribly wounding. So why would I care where he is in my pain? Mostly he feels far away. Tears, however, can be the place by which the last person we wish to see enters into the deepest parts of us. My seminary prof told me the early church saw the Good Samaritan story as just this sort of dilemma--bleeding on the side of the road, you'd love to be rescued by the priest, the Levite, by some doctor, or just about anyone EXCEPT the one guy who's actually there. You'd rather stay alone and rot than be helped by him. But maybe it's the desperation of the moment--there is simply no one else to turn to--that allows the possibility for grace, allows us to push past the walls of defense, blame, anger, self-righteousness, or whatever else, to realize that right in front of us is one with the depths of compassion we so desperately need.

The moment of tears is a moment of possibility. Will they close me off farther--turn me into someone whose heart is too burdened to enter into the lives of others? Or will they awaken in me the possibility that God, the very one I so often imagined standing far off indifferent to my pain is in fact the one leaning over my face, waiting out my reluctance and keeping me alive with his breath.

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