The Sacredness Of Tears

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. Washington Irving

Meditation: Often the Western culture mistakes tears for weakness. As a chaplain I often heard the judgmental words: “He broke down” or “She lost it” when people describe that somebody started crying. Those phrases are biased words that imply weakness, when in reality tears are signs of deep emotional strength. It is deeply saddening to me when young boys are being shamed and bullied for crying and young girls are being imitated or ridiculed for it. Our Western society can be a harsh culture that is ashamed of vulnerability. It does not know how to handle and tolerate the authentic expression of grief, of regret or of deep love. As a spiritual care provider I often had to reassure persons who were crying that they were safe in my presence and that their tears were holy and healing tears. It was a deep honor for me to create safe places of acceptance for people who went through the most painful times of trauma and loss. Whenever those who went through challenging times were able to cry, I felt confident that their grief would eventually lead to healing. However, I felt worried about persons who were unable or who refused to allow their tears to flow freely. I was concerned that their grief would turn inward and end up becoming chronic grief or even grow into a form of depression. Tears are sacred. Tears are healing balm for our soul. Tears are also the sign of deep compassion and of love for others. They even can be a healthy expression of compassion with ourselves. We are joining Jesus’s tears when we cry about losing loved ones. But also general tears of experiencing physical or emotional pain, of overwhelmedness, of regret and of love are healing tears. Tears preserve our humanity, and they prevent emotional stoicism, emotional poverty and emotional death.

Prayer: God, You hear our crying. We are grateful for the gift of tears. They cleanse us and heal us. They connect us with those we love and those we have to let go. Our tears are not weakness, but tremendous emotional richness. Our tears hold the promise of healing and are the containers of compassion and of love. God, help us change our culture that is often biased and ashamed of vulnerability and of tears. God, free our boys and girls from those cruel and judgmental phrases that prevent them from being authentic and vulnerable. God, free us so we can cry. Teach us that through our tears we can become and remain whole. Amen

In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from Your sight!” Yet You heard my cry for mercy when I called to You for help. Psalm 31:22