Sympathy pangs stung in my throat when my cousins choked out quintessential Dad stories from the front of the church. He was a resilient survivor, a man of quiet love, my Uncle Heimar, but that’s not what made swallowing painful for me. I was hurting for his adult children, whose involuntary tears were visceral and unwelcome. They would have rather not cried, not at that moment. But that moment had the floor.
Tears can take us unaware, it happens all the time. Despite palpable grief, my cousins seemed caught off guard by their own silences – the parts of their eulogies that could not be spoken without cracks and gaps.
Something singular happens to words between the time they are conceived and when they are spoken – as puzzling as a rising soufflé. There’s a transmutation when what you felt in private unpredictably steals the opportunity to break into pieces on its way out.
What about this is making you cry?
Everyone cries at weddings, births, head trauma, and the Gilmore Girls reunion trailer. Universal cry-fests. It’s more odd NOT to cry at a hard goodbye or a high school graduation. But what of the tears that pop out unexpectedly when we are minding our own business? Emotions that seem to move on us in stealth mode?
What’s going on there? Often its something that is yet unacknowledged, that matters more than we thought. An emotional reaction demanding a seat at the table. ***
Inside of the settings of friendship and prayer, we can safely explore tears that come out of nowhere. When we ask “What about this is making you cry?”, we crack a window for a feeling that’s gasping for breath.
Have you ever noticed surprise tears on a friend’s face, and thought, Well, that struck a nerve. What then? So often we don’t give ourselves over to this noticing – because we are so quick to heal our own souls. Or bulk up around sorrow. It helps to let some days pass. No need to jump on the moment – there’s tender stuff, there. We need the relief of some smiles and a joke, or a mindless chic-flick to soften and soothe.
Time gives us a chance for the story to tumble out fully formed instead of in fragments.
True story. I denied someone the answer to this question this week. I’ve got this, I thought, when she asked me to tell her, “What about that was making you cry?” That’s how I know that it’s hard.
What if I don’t know the answer yet? Unbidden tears are kind of weird, too, and what if weird is not what she bargained for with me?
Guess what? I can be weird, and you can be weird, and the weirdness is always just under the skin of the moment anyhow – so why not admit that?
I don’t know all the answers, but I’ve got some good questions. I love the kind that drag us into a side by side trek of bold trust. Would you remind me I love them the next time I choke? I would do that for you.
Be with the thing that’s waiting for space, and sit in the dawn of it while the sun rises. I do this with God, because he knows the answers and he’s great at the waiting.
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