Tears are a river that takes you somewhere…Tears lift your boat off the rocks, off dry ground, carrying it downriver to someplace better. ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes
I had been in months of conversation with my Spiritual Director – trying to theologically, ethically, psychologically puzzle out the pain of my marriage. Back then, the thought of leaving it never occurred to me. I had to make it work. It was my responsibility, my fate, my plight, my promise.
And so, week after week she and I would talk of the desert and the story of Hagar (my favorite) and her God. Week after week we would talk of my desert and my story and my God – the one that kept me bound and gagged, stuck, and imprisoned in promises and covenants and vows. Now mind you, I didn’t talk of God this way. I didn’t even believe this about God. But in truth, because I somehow had my choices (or seeming lack thereof) tightly wound ‘round my inherited beliefs, I really was imprisoned. Not by God, but by my ideas and faulty understandings of God.
Patiently, consistently, week after week, she would ask the smallest of questions that would open up my heart just a little bit more to a God that she knew and I wanted to know. And the smallest of shifts would take place.
Sometimes they felt as futile as pouring a glass of water on a desert full of sand and hoping for a lake; other times, they were an ample pour that soothed my deepest thirst.
One day she said, “We’ve talked much of the desert, Ronna – the heat, the sand, the journey, the diffculty. Where is the water? Where is the water for you?” I sat there for a few minutes, slightly incredulous that she would even ask such a thing. Finally, tears rolling down my cheeks, I said, “That’s the problem! There is no water for me! I’m totally parched, endlessly looking for some relief, some easing of this excruciating pain.”
And just as calmly as she’d asked the question, she then said this, “That’s not what I see, at all. There is plenty of water. Lots of it, actually. Do you not see?”
I responded hurriedly, even angry: “No! I don’t see. I don’t know where the water is. I am so thirsty. Tell me?” Graciously, she handed me a box of tissues and said, “Your tears, Ronna. Your tears.”
What makes the desert beautiful,’ said the little prince, ‘is that somewhere it hides a well… ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
How could I not have seen?
I remember moments in elementary school, middle school, high school and beyond when something would be said that wounded me or caused profound shame. My instinctual response was tears. I’d try to hide them, but that was not easily done, given that my face would turn red, and red-rims would immediately form around my eyes even if I was able to prevent the actual tears from falling. When I was finally alone, whether hiding behind my locker door or in my bedroom at night, I would cry and cry and cry. Such sadness would pour forth.
And this is hardly something from just my past. Even now, I cry. A couple months ago, there was a period of two or three nights in which I cried myself to sleep – so sad over an ending relationship that once again (!!!) completely broke my heart. Two weeks ago, while visiting my sister across the country, I caught a horrible cold. One night I took myself to bed at 6:00 – unable to sit in the living room one second longer. My head was completely congested. Crying was not helpful, given how much liquid was already clogging my sinuses. But I was so miserable, that it was all I could do. The tears came, I wiped them away along
with the snot, and I prayed for the mercy of sleep.
What if my tears are gift? What if they are the well in my desert?
When Hagar cried out in her desert, an angel came, the Divine showed up, she was heard and seen. Her tears called the Divine to her side. And if her, perhaps me, as well.
Perhaps all my searching for the Divine was and is “answered” in my tears. Perhaps the water that pours forth in the driest of places, the harshest of places, and even the most lovely, is the Divine in liquid, watery form. Perhaps my tears are the Divine. Perhaps.
And if so, then the Divine has always been with me. In my bedroom alone at night, hiding behind my locker door, in sadness, in sickness, and yes, in health. My tears have been an embodied experience that expresses my very soul. Which IS where the Divine dwells, shows up, lives, and moves – the same spark that dwells within us all.
And hey, even if it’s not the Divine (which I believe it is), it is still a miracle – just like the angel that showed up for Hagar. It is a miracle for me to see my tears as an expression of my soul; as a way in which I have an embodied knowing that I can trust…
The awareness of this overwhelms me, actually, and makes me cry. Which means it is true. Which means I’m right. Which means that right here, in this place, at this computer, within this post, as word number 925 is typed, I am embodied, my soul is engaged, and the Divine is – as always – present…and handing me another box of tissues.
If me, then you, as well.
May it be so.
The conversations I had with my Spiritual Director over many hours and many years formed a profound basis for the work I do today – handing you a (virtual) box of tissues, hearing your stories, seeing your heart, welcoming your soul, and
finding/expecting/experiencing the Divine that is and always has been here and present and real.
Undoing old understandings. Inviting new ones. And deepening your connection to the infinite wisdom you do hold within, in your very soul. Learn more.