I’ve been crying every day for many days now.

When I watch the evening news, I cry. When Steve Hartman’s ‘On the Road’ segment shows the amazing love that is in people, stretching over generations, living through war, even joining strangers, in endless variety and power, I cry.

When I see sorrow or fear or abandonment on the faces of men or women or especially children anywhere in the world, I cry. This last week and more, when I see people carrying coffins – long lines of coffins – in Haiti since the earthquake, I cry. When I see families outside the airport in Kabul, sitting there with only the hope that is in their hearts, I cry. When I watch the video taken by the woman in Tennessee in her son’s house as the flood waters roll by higher and higher, until the picture tilts and she cries out, and he says something you can’t quite make out, and then it ends, and so does her life they say . . . then I cry. When the young couple appear on the screen with their two little children and talk about their 7-month old twins, torn away from their father’s arms by that same flood, and the photo of the two smiling babies suddenly is there, I cry.

When I hear the sharp words of division between people in this land of blessings, when I hear people curse each other over their disagreements, when I see individuals make decisions that move Death to rub his cold hands together in glee, then I cry.

When I stand with friends at the bedsides of their loved ones who have lived with disabilities, but also with laughter and a joy deeper than any loss, all their lives; when I recognize their strength and see the light of God’s face in theirs, I cry.

When I feel so tired and near-overwhelmed, when the way forward is fogged and my sight is poor; when I turn to prayer and feel there the embrace of the One who is energy and light and way and truth and life, I cry.

When I visit with old friends over good food and drink, when the blessings of memories are freely shared and conversation brings forth the unity of understanding and the light of a little shared wisdom, I leave their company with a smile at last, and go to the car and sit in gratitude, and cry.

When I see a photo of my Mom, one that I’ve not seen before or for a long time, with that familiar smile and those eyes of light, and I hear that voice crying out in astonishing welcome the name she and Dad gave me to carry, I cry.

When the silence is full here in the little chapel, and the fullness an embrace, and the embrace a promise, and the promise held, then I cry.

I read just recently that Ignatius of Loyola for years cried, all the time. Eventually he just told God he was going to stop, that the tears were affecting his sight, and stop he did. But not before shedding how many tears over the sorrow of sin, of the pain of the world, of what was and what might have been? I just read this for the first time after all these years. And I was glad that God is giving me a life long enough to continue to learn, and a path to find what I need to know. And I cried.

I don’t mean to say that I am always feeling sad. That would not be true. In fact I’m often not feeling sad at all when the tears come. I laugh each and every day as well. Heartily and deeply. But I am learning hour by hour that one fitting response of the living heart to the reality of this human world is precisely,



to cry. It is, as the prayer says, right and just so to do.

The salt water of our tears flows down the cheeks and away,

and joining all the others since Abel’s tears in the face of his brother’s rage,

become the waves of our every ocean, rolling up on every shore in a timeless rhythm that endlessly repeats those first words, heard by none and known by all,

spoken by that Voice never heard and heard always, whispered by the Creator who is the first and the last and the always to cry over us the benediction of loving tears,

“It is good, it is good, it is very good.”

~ JP McGinty 8.25.21 Feast of Saint Louis, King of France

Shifaaz shamoon, on Unsplash

One thought on “Tears

  1. John, that is beautiful. The tears, your tears, reveal a remarkable capacity to love. I am grateful to know that you’re my friend. Blessings! And, thank you! – Steve

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