The world does bad things to us all, and we do bad things to the world and to each other and maybe most of all to ourselves, but in that dazzle of bright water as the glittering whales hurled themselves into the sun, I believe what we saw was that joy is what we belong to. Joy is home, and I believe the tears that came to our eyes were more than anything else homesick tears.
~Frederick Buechner in The Longing for Home
Sometimes I have thought that my tears, my all too ready tears, are connected to something cosmic. All my life tears seem to have been closer to the surface than for others. From grade 1 crying to the song Puff the Magic Dragon, to the 50-something year old brought to tears by children at Costco leaping for joy at the moment of parental Yes!, tears have been my language. Some tears make sense to the rest of the world: hearing that our child in utero had died. Some don’t seem to make sense: telling a stranger on the street that she’s beautiful.
My Dad was one of the people to give me clues that my tears weren’t “normal.” Countless times in my childhood he would say to me, “Don’t cry! Don’t cry!” I realized just a few weeks ago that, 52 years into my life, he doesn’t know what they meant or still mean. And why should he? I haven’t understood them and they spring from my eyes!
I have been told (not by my father) that my tears are self-centred. When I was clinically depressed, I was told that once I experienced inner healing and came to some semblance of peace and wholeness, the tears would stop. I have been told my tears are embarrassing; I have been embarrassed by them on many occasions. And yet, having emerged from depression, finding peace and finding my gift of compassion, they keep coming!
Frederick Buechner’s story of finding tears in his eyes at a Sea World orca show has opened a vista of possibilities. Buechner describes his tears – and those of his wife and daughter – as tears of homesickness as their human eyes caught sight of divine joy, for which we are created. Tears expressing something beyond self, tears expressing a connection to a larger picture of life. These are my tears.
I have come to understand that what I see, the way I see things, is not what others see or the way they see them. I shouldn’t be surprised if my tears are an expression of my unique view of the world. Why do I cry at the wedding ceremony of strangers? Because in that moment they are fully present with one another, expressing their best selves, immersed for a moment I the eternity of love and vows and best selves. It’s so much more than the words, the dress, the flowers. They are connected (consciously or unconsciously, willingly or unwillingly), to the Divine in a time-stopping cosmic way. And I see it. And in seeing I am, even just for a moment, overwhelmed by the love, the vastness, the breathtaking beauty of it all. It’s like all the grime and tatters and grubbiness of this world are erased in that moment and I see things as they are meant to be. It brings tears to my eyes because I have a glimpse of home and it is magnificent.
Photo: Grand Entry of First Nations University Pow Wow (an event that brought me to tears) – Heather Holtslander