“The soul would have no rainbow had the eye no tears” (John Vance Cheney).

IT WOULD BE A MISTAKE TO TRY TO AVOID TEARS. As with many other “negative” experiences, we tend to say, “I want as little of that as possible in my life.” But tears have a value and a place in our lives that we should not be quick to dismiss. As John Vance Cheney reminds us, “The soul would have no rainbow had the eye no tears.”

Those who try to implement a “No Tears” philosophy can only do so by denying the brokenness of the world. If we are honest, we have to recognize this fact: there are many things about the world that can only be responded to with tears, at least if we have any sympathy or tenderness about us. So what should we do concerning the brokenness of the world? Refuse to face the facts or pretend that it isn’t so? Live in a make-believe world where “everything is wonderful”?

No, none of these forms of denial are appropriate to engage in. Granted, the heartbreaking aspects of life are never the whole truth about the world, and we should make up our minds to remember the larger perspective — but even so, we should not automatically run away from things that cause us to cry. Unpleasantness is not to be avoided at all costs, and we should not necessarily shun contact with sorrow. As we mature, we come to grips with the fact that life is indeed a bittersweet experience, a mixture of emotions. We learn to be thankful for both the joy of the laughter and the value of the tears.

There is, however, one kind of tears that we should try to keep to a minimum, and that is the tears of other people that result from misdeeds on our part. It is true, as someone has said, that the hardest tears to bear are those that we ourselves have caused, and these should certainly be avoided by refraining from the deeds that cause them.

One remarkable aspect of tears is the way they bond us to other people heart-to-heart. If we had our choice, perhaps we wouldn’t want to be crying at all, but when we not only cry but we cry with others, we find the experience to be truly transforming. Tears that, shed in isolation, might harm us may heal us when shed in company.

It is sweet to mingle tears with tears;
Griefs, where they wound in solitude,
Wound more deeply.
(Seneca)

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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