What makes me OK with my new teary situation is that for one, God knows me in and out and loves me anyway. He loves weepy ol’ me and has been there. In John 11:35, he wept as he saw Mary weeping at the tomb of Lazarus. He felt her anger and her sadness. And in this, the shortest verse of the New Testament, God expressed his sorrow in one of the most human ways possible – through tears.
I’m starting to think, too, that sometimes our tears are as St. Augustine of Hippo once put it, “A visible sign of an invisible reality.” There might be something sacramental going on with these droplets that are wiped from people’s eyes. There is no doubt it is sacramental when babies born at four months gestation are “baptized” with the tears of their parents. Those tears are holy tears.
There is nothing more amazing than hearing the stories of St. Francis of Assisi’s life from a Franciscan who can’t make it through the story without crying. She is so in touch with the passion of a man who lived 800 years ago, and brings it to life through her quivering chin and weepy voice. Those tears are holy tears, too.
I have seen leaders of large corporations break into tears during important meetings. An amazing leader I know said it best as she cried, “I know that if I don’t do my job, thousands of others lose theirs. So I keep fighting.” She later called her tears, “career suicide,” but they weren’t. Her holy tears were the confirmation of her vocation, her commitment to a life of service.
So, I will cry and surround myself with amazing middle school teachers who can hardly speak about their students without tearing up. I will miss my grandma whenever I want to and cry it out. Those tears run right down my face and refresh my spirit, nourishing the love from my grandma that grows deep inside of me. My tears are no longer uncomfortable; they are my soul’s way of making what was invisible, visible to the world. So everyone will know my empathy, my pain, my sorrow and my joy.
(Weber is a mother of two sons. Her family belongs to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish on Milwau-kee’s South Side.)