I was meditating this morning, and out of nowhere, the familiar (but not always welcome) warm tears began to cascade down my face. This happens almost every time I sit down to settle into silence. I often wonder why it happens because I’m not in a sad mood to begin with. In fact, I’m normally cheerful - or maybe that was then. Before...
But ever since my son Chad died, I carry the always-and-ever-present sadness that - when no one else is watching - shows its face on my face, in the form of streaming tears.
I recently came back from an 8-day silent retreat. While there, my trusted advisor (aka spiritual director) told me that this place of warm tears is the tender place, the place I should not be afraid to go. The place where I am called, where healing happens. I agree with this, and I can attest to the truth of it from my own experience, but it doesn’t make it any easier to sit down and be open to going there.
Of course, I’m not the one who’s actually "doing the going.” While I “do” nothing, my mind is cavorting, clenching, conniving, and controlling. And somewhere in that, I’m open to the opening, (it’s grace I tell you), consenting to the action of something bigger (and much better). That’s all I need to do, just consent and allow myself to be led to wherever mystery and the presence of God leads.
Sounds simple, but without “doing” one simple thing, nothing can happen. That simple thing, of course, is to show up. That’s my part. Just show up and sit up and shut up if at all possible. And then, I don’t really have to wait too long for the tears, because they almost always arrive. Right on time.
Being receptive to this takes no small amount of courage. But then I think of Peter, and wonder: to where else would I go? Doesn’t my God of mystery and presence have the words of life? Or, in my case, the tears that pull me through pain and bring me to new life? Yes, even if I can’t quite “figure it out” on my own. For I know now that understanding isn’t the point. Transformation is the point, and that's happening, ready or not. If I sit with the tears and the pain and the muck and the memories and allow, allow, allow.
I know this "sitting in silence" thing can be and often is a scary thing to think about. It’s so very easy (and so very understandable) to run. It’s okay to run. Many of us, in our own unique ways of needing to run from the pain of losing a child or grandchild, run far and fast. I get it. I run, often.
My message is to beg you, like me, to run back. Then sit. Take refuge. Don’t worry about the thoughts. They come and they go and they’re not what matters but they may be what heals. So sit. And cry. And sit and cry some more. There is no deeper place than this place that calls us. That calls us into pain and Presence and home. We already know this deep ocean, familiar and tumultuous. It’s an ocean of tears, and it will, someday, in some miraculous way, bring us to the peace that surpasses our understanding.
In the meantime, let’s press on and ride this wave. There’s a beautiful shore at the end of it - and our dear ones are waiting for us. And where they are, there are no tears. Never ever.