Sunday, at Pilgrimage, we talked some about the “sacrament of tears.” I just ran across this piece by Sr. Joan Chittister on “the spirituality of weeping.” It’s a great follow-up to Sunday’s conversation.
What matters to those who weep?
Tears fall despite the fact that we resist them so strongly. Unfortunately, few of us see our weeping as a spiritual gift or a matter of divine design. But we are wrong. Weeping is very holy and life giving. It sounds alarms for a society and wisens the soul of the individual. 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.
Tears attune us to ourselves and tears attune us to the rest of the human race as well. Once we ourselves have suffered, the suffering of others falls upon our softened hearts, and we become more human members of the human race. We learn that there are tears of joy as well as tears of sadness, and we allow ourselves to weep them. We come to realize that it is tears alone that stop us where we stand in life and demand that we assess it one more time, this time with the sort of reflection that sees more than anyone can see.
The spirituality of weeping stretches life to its outside edges and gives us a capacity for all its crannies, all its treasures. Those who live in holy anger know what it is to look at a wounded world and cry. Those who have cultivated humility and self-criticism know the pain of failing themselves and so can rise to even greater heights because their tears have made them whole. Those who live committed to honesty face the pain in life and do not flinch from it.
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.
– from For Everything a Season by Joan Chittister (Orbis)