Put my tears into your bottle
By Dean Gary Jones
Rears tell the truth. When we find ourselves crying, we know we are in touch with something genuine and of greatest importance. Whether we are overwhelmed with joy or crushed by grief, tears often speak the deepest truths of all. And interestingly, when we see someone else crying, we ourselves might spontaneously begin to tear up, as well. It’s how we’re made. Tears both express and evoke. They remind us of a truth we too often forget – we are much more connected to each other than we can imagine. Our intentions for each other matter.
A memorable verse from the psalms mysteriously says: “You have noted my sorrows; you have put my tears into your bottle and recorded them in your book.” (Psalm 56:8)
It turns out that collecting tears in a bottle is an ancient practice, dating back at least 3,000 years. People weeping over the loss of someone they loved would collect their tears in a bottle (a lachrymatory) and bury them with their loved one, a beautiful expression of eternal love and devotion. Surely such rituals evolve from a reality that we cannot express – that we are somehow a part of each other, and our connection to each other is eternal, transcending time and space. That expression of the Psalmist – that God collects our tears and records them in God’s book – this is a sign of something we feel from time to time but cannot speak.
That is, through all the difficulties of our lives, there are occasional, momentary reminders (if only we could believe them) that we are not alone; that we are mysteriously “attended;” that we are known, held, and cherished; and that nothing can ever separate us from the Love of God, as St. Paul put it (Romans 8:38-39).
And when all our words fail us and even our scripture and rituals seem to fall a little short, there is still another refuge or temple of holiness where our hearts sometimes seem to waken to a sense of communion and communication that our minds cannot begin to fathom. Thomas Keating, drawing on the writings of the 16thcentury mystic, John of the Cross, put it this way: “Silence is God’s first language. Everything else is a poor translation.”
We have sensed the truth of this whenever we have been held or rocked in silence by someone who loved us deeply. Something powerful was being communicated at those times, and even though we could not put it into words, we perhaps sensed that we were becoming more truly ourselves by becoming one with each other, and with God.
Something like this can happen in silent prayer, which is perhaps why many find it especially helpful to practice with others. Over time, in regularly “holding silence” for each other, we find that we are both holding and being held. Our usual sense of separateness seems to fall away. We don’t have words for it; we just sense that we are being changed into who we most truly are. And who I am is very much tied up with who you are.
Maybe silence and stillness, like tears, show us that our lives are ever bending to express the deepest truth of who we are and always have been, in God.
See the original post and additional reflections at contemplativechapel.org