As we journey along the pathway of theosis, becoming holy as God is holy, we have a profound sense of our distance from God - we see and experience within ourselves and throughout the world gaping wounds of alienation, high walls of hostility, and we long for unity with God. In our state of exile, restrained in our garment of skin, we cry for ourselves and for the world. The tender mercy of our God touches our hearts and renders us tenderly merciful filled with God's love towards all. An immense compassion is born in the heart. Our eyes fill with tears. Prayer accompanied by tears reaches out at every moment to all beings, those unable to form words, those who are enemies of the truth, those who turn away from God, that they might be protected and purified.
We know the story of Mary who cried at the feet of Christ anointing Him with precious ointment and wiping His feet with her hair. The tears, the scented perfume symbolize water and fire of the Spirit, the natural elements of mystical or ascetic purification. The gospel of John allows us to know that anointing and these tears symbolize the purification of the Kingdom by the voluntary sacrifice of Our Lord on the next day, the eve of Pascha. So when the Lord grants us the gift of tears by His Holy Spirit, it is as a means of participation in the Kingdom of God, already among us and yet to come. The peace which then comes to dwell in the heart of this prayerful one in tears is the sign of God's presence, the confirmation of His work among us in the body of Christ... to raise up His people with hearts of flesh vulnerable and soft yet bold and daring, an offering in prayer. Lord have mercy.
"Even before you were formed in your mother's womb, I knew you. Even before your birth, I consecrated you as prophet of the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5). This vocation or calling out of Jeremiah by God is the vocation God puts forth to each of us to be consecrated beings, known by God and inspired by Him to do His holy will. We are called to be faithful sentries in prayer over the body of Christ and all those who yet sit in darkness so that He who is, who was and who always will be, Christ our God, might guide them and us into the way of light. We need to be watchful as well over the darkened areas of our own lives allowing them exposure to the warmth of Christs transforming light. In her great wisdom, our church calls us to regular practice of confession, a re-awakening of our spiritual being under the guidance of a spiritual father who offers wise council and the prayer of absolution after witnessing to the sorrow we express in the details of our going astray from the divine plan.
The tears shed by those who have received the gift of tears are not shed in desperation or turmoil but rather in peace, thanksgiving and rejoicing, in offering the eternal eucharist of the heart where unceasingly we watch and pray. For many in our modem world the gift of tears is unknown. Fragmentation, loneliness, isolation dominate our lives and we know not our own hearts or the hearts of others. We become strangers to each other and to ourselves and to God. He is at the door awaiting an opportunity to enter. Created in God's image, however, men and women are icons of the holy one, illuminated by His Grace, animated by the Holy Spirit. We have only to practice metanoia, the turning away from all that is not of God towards God. Then the divine warmth melts all those places within that we've been protecting, boarded up over time, numb, inaccessible, cast down in shame.
Our Lord cries to us in the depths of our hearts, "Awake 0 sleeper, rise up from among the dead, and Christ will illumine you". "And you shall be as I fashioned you, a child of light capable of great compassion and love. And then I will awaken within you my Holy Spirit. You will know the profound love without limits I have for you. And your flow of tears will witness to the melting of frozen places within you. The softening of your tear stained face will be an invitation for me to take up my abode in your heart. I will remove from you all harsh judgement" He says: "Look to my mother, the Theotokos to see her tears as she stood by my cross remembering the words of the holy prophet and righteous elder, Simeon, 'A sword shall pierce your heart'. Notice how she understands this offering of myself in love for the salvation of the world. See how she treasures all these things in her heart and how her heart becomes a place of offering of herself in prayer, a place of strong silence emanating from and participating in the salvation of the world".
Slowly we come to understand the true gift of tears as God's invitation to join in the work of redemption. This gift is given by God's grace. It visits us gently in the still of the dark night when quietly we are inspired to hold God's people before Him in prayer. It shakes us abruptly into prayer consciousness in the face of the tempter, potential dangers so that here too, we can be alert and wrap His precious children in the garment of protective prayer. St Silouan, holy monk of Mt Athos, prayed these words: "Merciful Lord, I pray for all the people of the world that they might know Thee by Thy Holy Spirit". In his struggle with despair, St Silouan was one of us. In his offering of himself to God, he shows us the spiritual path, validating divine adoption, the becoming children of God, each one a child of the fight.
May God deliver us from any hardness of heart, foster within us true humility and love. The Lord reminds us: "I have not come to lose mankind but to save". (Luke 9:54-56). With the psalmist may we rejoice and say, "My soul waits in silence for God alone" and may we consecrate ourselves and our lives to the joy of anticipation of God's loving presence with us now and to the wonder of His coming again when truly He will wipe away every tear and reclaim us as His own. (Rev.21). Our tears over our losses are seen by God. Our Lord is touched by our suffering just as He was moved by the loss of Mary and Martha when their brother, Lazarus died. Jesus wept. And He weeps for us while at the same time reminding us that we are participants in His Kingdom here and now and that He can transform our grieving into a dance of joy. Our losses are real. We must weep over them As we grieve, slowly a sense of renewal returns. After wandering in the place of loss, barrenness and desolation, we experience consolation, God's holy caring.
In some small way our personal losses allow us to know the grief of our Lord for His people when they stray from Him. We receive special entrance to the place of divine mourning and on that threshold see the depth and breadth and width of God's vast love. What begins as a personal loss, a singular bereavement can become a holy mourning by God's grace in the communion of saints. We blend our tears with the tears of our Saviour for the great loss we all experienced in being exiled from the garden of paradise. Here our hearts are filled with yearning. Here we can feel the intense need for reconciliation. Here we are inspired to pray for the gift of tears, that by God's grace we may become true bearers of His image aflame with love and devotion, tender merciful, compassionate, watchful, offerings of purity, desirous of the holiness our Lord would bestow upon us and the whole world.