painting by Amy Casey

When I saw this painting – finished, unique, complete houses lifted up out of the rubble – my eyes filled unexpectedly. The concept is too good, the visual stays with me. I wipe a rogue tear and wonder where it comes from.

This morning, I read a post Amber wrote about being overcome with her life gifts. It is lovely, as her posts always are. But when she says that her husband baptized their son and called him brother as he lowered him into the water, I baptize you, Isaac, my son and my brother. A father, loving his son. It is that word, brother. That’s what brings the tears. This time they don’t stop.

In line to board the airplane, I hear a man behind me say, “Now remember, it’s just up and down. And don’t forget to get down on the floor with the kids. Get down on their level and play with them. Alright, now it’s just up and down from here.” I can’t help but turn to look, the scruff in his voice not matching the gentle words he speaks. She smiles and nods okay several times, and I know she has some type of disability, though I can’t place it. He isn’t boarding the plane, must have special permission to escort her. She looks excited, like this is all very new for her, like perhaps she’s never done anything alone, ever. The man (her brother?) looks hesitant to let her go. But he assures her it’s just up and down from here, as if perhaps they’ve had conversations about this trip for a long time before now. And he is concerned for her. And I am surprised by the sting in my eyes. He loves her.

I read these lines in a book:

“Final words are hard to hear when you know for certain they are indeed final. And I knew for certain. Four anniversaries had come and gone while I remained in this nowhere place. Even the crickets were quiet.”

Charles Martin, When Crickets Cry

… and even though it’s fiction, it isn’t really. I think of my mother-in-law who lost her husband just a few months ago. My eyes sting.

I was interviewed yesterday by the lovely Moira Brown and things are going well and honest, and then she reads the dedication of my book out loud, For John, who lives and breathes the mystery of Christ in you, the hope of glory. And I think I hide it well, and I don’t think you can tell, but hearing his name and knowing the mystery brings hot, quick tears to the surface, right there on live TV.

So what? Why does it matter what makes you cry or tear up? Maybe it just means you’re overly emotional, sappy, too sensitive. Maybe. Or maybe our tears are tiny messengers, secret keepers of the most vulnerable kind, sent to deliver a most important message – Here is where your heart beats strong. Here is a hint to your design. Here is a gift from your inner life, sent to remind you those things that make you come alive.

Change in the world comes when we acknowledge what moves us and why. When we don’t try to ignore the art and the desire, rather listen to it and live fully in it. So what are some things for you? What makes you tear up?

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