Friday, May 13, 2011
This week, I came into the presence of a friend battling terminal cancer, a little child growing up with Muscular Dystrophy, a couple facing the challenges of infertility and someone losing their only source of employment. Words cannot describe the pain they are feeling and the tears they shed…neither can I…
I pulled out an old book entitled, “The Pain of Being Human”, written by a Eugene Cullen Kennedy, back in the early 70s.
The author was ordained a Roman Catholic priest back in 1955 and subsequently somehow married a nun sometime in 1977…but we shall not go into that part of the road. Instead, what I would like to do is to quote a small chapter from this simply brilliant writing on the human condition.
“As humans, we experience the pains that come from just being human. In our journey, we are not inoculated against the aches and struggles as a human being; a child of God. Pain is experienced we face freedom’s choices and we are not certain what the right course will be, coupled by the uncertainties that are a constant part of our journey.
Tears say a lot but sometimes they are hard to understand. We can weep for joy as we weep for sorrow; some people weep at almost anything while others hardly ever weep at all.
Tears are a language that everybody speaks, but with different accents and meanings according to the complicated laws of how we have learned to express our emotions.
The French, they say, cry quite freely while Americans shed private tears to express something very deep in their lives. How can something so wrenching to the soul be described as “having a good cry”?
The truth is, of course, that we have all felt like crying and we know from experience that it can have many meanings. Tears can be the recourse of children who are on the spot – the defense against adult questioning or accusation which wins them mercy rather than justice in the small missteps of childhood. These are the tears that must be put away if a person is to move into maturity.
Sadly enough, there are those who go on weeping the defensive tears of childhood for the rest of their lives whenever they are in difficult circumstances. These people never understand grown-up tears, the tears that are much more than the sobs of self-pity.
Oh, we can all feel sorry for ourselves at times but if we are relatively mature we can catch our emotions and save ourselves and others from the self-indulgent tears we might otherwise shed.
Tears in the mature person’s life come at very deep moments of sadness and joy, on occasions of separation and reunion, whenever love shows through life. Tears are above all, a sign that we are alive, that the heart still beats because we care about someone or something enough to cry.
Only the dead or the totally despairing have no tears. People who live with hope and trust can cry aloud; they are alive and have known the meaning of love.
Some men hide their tear to show their strength; others keep their sorrow secret because weeping seems a source of shame for them; and heavy hearted are those whose eyes are dry because their wound is so deep that they cannot let the hurt out at all.
The loneliest of men are those who have no one in whose presence they feel free to weep, no one whose responding love can redeem them from the sadness that has settled into their souls.
It is a hard thing to cry but it is not a bad thing. It is a tragic thing to cry alone because this means we have built walls around our lives, walls so high that nobody else can see over them.
Our tears not only express the deep wells of our feelings but they also make us one with all men who have ever loved or tried to reach out in a tender and caring way to anybody else.
Our tears, Dickens said, are “rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.” Our tears redeem us when they reveal us clearly to another, unshielded from the consequences or risks that are involved in being human.
If we have cried ourselves, we find something of ourselves to give back to the suffering and sorrowful all around us. We need not move away from them, bidding them to hide their tears because they hurt us so much.
We have gone along the same human path and we understand how, in our grief, the presence of another person can bring a certain wholeness to our sorrow.
We give life when we learn from our own weeping how to give ourselves with gentleness and compassion to the sighs and struggles of other people.
The psalmist was no stranger to weeping and neither was the Lord who cried over Jerusalem and at the death of his friend Lazarus. St Paul tells us that the whole earth groans and cries out, longing for fulfillment. Mature tears are signs of the same kind of longing, a kinship with a world as yet unfulfilled.
Our tears tell us that we are alive, that we have roots in the lives of others, and that we have been touched by the warmest of suns, human love. We should resolve that nobody we love ever has to cry alone.”
God will provide us with all that is necessary for us to complete our sacred journey...each journey having its own special pattern. This pattern, designed by God, aims to bring out our deeper, hidden but real self, which is the goal of our journey of growth through life; sometimes, as we know through our experiences, accompanied by lots of tears. Jesus wishes to accompany us on this journey…He has assured us that the home is God’s house, a mansion with many rooms.
...Continue to be patient…be gentle…be compassionate…to anyone struggling to make it to home.