Monday, May 31, 2010

Christe eleison…

Jesus, the Blessed One, mourns. Jesus mourns when his friend Lazarus dies (see John 11:33-36); he mourns when he overlooks the city of Jerusalem, soon to be destroyed (see Luke 19:41-44). Jesus mourns over all losses and devastations that fill the human heart with pain. He grieves with those who grieve and sheds tears with those who cry.

The violence, greed, lust, and so many other evils that have distorted the face of the earth and its people causes the Beloved Son of God to mourn. We too have to mourn if we hope to experience God's consolation.

Henri Nouwen, from Bread for the Journey

Tears can be a gift of the Holy Spirit.  At the point when you can’t achieve the game of perfection, all you can do is offer to God who you are today, warts and all.  Your willingness to offer your imperfect gift, knowing it will be totally received, brings you to tears—“holy tears.”  There are many gifts of tears, however; sometimes you just cry for the pain and suffering of others, even though you yourself are not suffering at all.  I am sure most of you have experienced such holy tears, maybe even today when we remember the many who have died so young, so alone, and sometimes so needlessly.

Richard Rohr, adapted from Following the Mystics through the Narrow Gate... Seeing God in All Things
(Winter Conference 2010)

Once I wrote:

What do I mean by "perennial brokenheartedness"? Well for me, it appears outwardly in the way that I cannot ignore suffering, real  or fictional, human or animal, which gives rise to my rather antisocial inability to watch or read much in the way of TV, films or novels. Inwardly, it is an inability, especially in prayer, to turn my heart away from pain.

It gets embarrassing too. Once, years ago, appalled at my own hard-heartedness in prayer, I prayed for the gift of tears. Bad idea. That's the kind of prayer God seems to take a particular delight in answering. Now, of course, I can't stop my helpless tears when I pray, or get involved in certain sorts of conversations.

Of course I've often tried to minimise such things. Even these days, it's embarrassing enough for women to be this way. When men do it it's downright odd. Besides, the more I can minimise it to myself, the more I can insulate myself from the transferred suffering of others, as well as from whatever internal suffering of my own is going on.

Over the past few months, God has been finding me out again. I can’t pretend any more. I seem to be becoming transparent, leached by a light beyond me, thin and half-seen even in my own mirror. I’m not quite sure what I am becoming—I only know whose I am. Christe eleison…


  1. A wonderful reflection. What I seem to feel from what you wrote at the end is that no matter how you act, you are being drawn to God, or really, God is drawing you. Your transparency is you losing the grip of the secular world around you, it is what we become as we travel the Narrow Way. 'Holy Tears',...I like that.

  2. "I’m not quite sure what I am becoming—I only know whose I am."

    This brings the gift of wisdom to mind, what a beautiful fruit of the spirit!