I recently started following a blog called Walking to China, the stories of an American family who moved to China with their daughter. The father teaches English as a second language, and the family is in the process of adopting a Chinese boy.
This weekend, the post was entitled “Tears,” and it included this quote by Author Frederick Beuchner:
“Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are but, more often than not, God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is ummoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go to next.”
I pondered Beuchner’s words, and asked myself what are the things that bring me to unexpected tears.
Certain movies and television shows.
Sappy movies and television shows.
Hallmark Hall of Fame commercials.
Stories of heroism and sacrifice.
Stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Memories of emotional times.
Someone experiencing profound emotional or spiritual pain.
Stories about the Holocaust.
The Olympic Stadium scene in my novel Dancing Priest (I’ve read it hundreds of times, and the tears never fail.) (I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this.)
Certain music, like Michael W. Smith’s version of Agnus Dei.
Certain moments when I’m writing, when the emotion overwhelms.
Beuchner says tears, unexpected tears, are telling you about “the secret of who you are.” Did you ever think of yourself as a secret?
And more: that God is speaking through unexpected tears of the mystery of where you’ve come from and where you should go next.
The secret of who you are.
The mystery of where you’ve come from.
The summons of where you should go next.
And then I think: Jesus wept.
At the tomb of his friend Lazarus, Jesus wept, and it appears to have been unexpected. If Jesus was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, why did he cry?
Perhaps he wasn’t crying for Lazarus.
The secret of who he was.
The mystery of where he came from.
The summons of where he should go next.
Illustration: Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity), by Vincent Van Gogh, 1890; Kroller-Muller Museum in Otterlo, Netherlands.