About crying in church

Image: Statue of Jesus with tear, Brasiliao / Shutterstock.comA short meditation from Richard Rohr to begin this post:

“Happy are those who weep. They shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:5)

On the men’s retreats now we speak of “grief work.” A very different kind of work for men! There is undoubtedly a therapeutic, healing meaning to tears. Is not weeping, in fact, necessary? To understand? To let go? To enter in? But Jesus is also describing the state of those who have something to weep about, who feel the pain of the world. He’s saying, those who can grieve, who can cry, are those who will give comfort and compassion to the world.

The Syrian Fathers Ephraem and Simeon understood tears. The Greek Fathers of the Church tended to filter the gospel through the head. The Syrians, like today’s feminist theologians, find the gospel much more localized in the body. The Syrian Fathers wanted tears, in effect, to be a sacrament in the Church. And St. Ephraem goes so far as to say, “Until you have cried, you don’t know God.” How different! We think we know God through ideas! But this is body theology: Weeping, wiping away the tears (Luke 7:38), anointing bodies for death (Mark 14:3-9), perhaps will allow you to know God much better than concepts and orthodox formulas.

Jesus claims the weeping class: The forgotten, the voiceless, the rejected will understand, he seems to say.  —Richard Rohr in Radical Grace

Weeping, wiping away the tears (Luke 7:38) perhaps will allow you to know God much better than concepts and orthodox formulas

I continue this post with a short quote from an essay by Mallory McDuff in Sojourners (followed by a recommendation):

A Southerner by birth and the daughter of an Episcopal priest, my mother always told me that church was the best place to cry. I remember her eyes filling with tears at the beauty of a hymn, the elegance of the liturgy, or the sadness of a season. As a child, I didn’t have to understand. I just had to sit by her side in the pew—and watch her muddle through.

I commend her essay, “Why I cry in church,” to you. I commend the power and mystery of tears to you. What are your experiences, favorite quotes, wisdom about tears (in church or anywhere)?

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Talking to children about tragedy and disaster

After the tornado in Moore, OK. Photo by Sue Ogrocki via thesilverpen.com

Talking with children about tragedy, especially if there is death and destruction, is a moment fraught with both possibility and danger. What follows is counsel from Hollye Jacobs (a mother, breast cancer survivor, nurse, and social worker) on her blog “The Silver Pen.” Hollye writes,

Begin-quotex7152In the aftermath of the Oklahoma tornado tragedy if you’re wondering how to talk to children about tragedy and natural disasters, you’re not alone. It’s totally normal to be bamboozled by such catastrophe. The key, however, is including children in the dialogue.

Many of you already know how important it is to me that adults talk with children and keep lines of communication open. Silence is NOT golden especially when television and other media are depicting graphic scenes of devastation. Children are being exposed to stories and photos of dislocated families, destroyed homes and a rising death toll. UGH. We MUST talk with children about natural disasters.

The thing of it is: when children are left alone with information, they have the capacity to imagine far worse than reality (even when reality is awful!). For example, young children often confuse facts with fantasy and may not realize that the same images are shown over and over again on television. Rather they may think that the disasters are happening over and over again. Yup. How awful is that?

Read the entire post: How to talk to children about tragedy and disaster

Hollye then goes on to detail 10 ‘simple’ concepts to put into action if you are called upon, or if you volunteer, to speak to a child or children about the tornado. She offers sound advice, good counsel, and counsel filled with hope. In her post she expands upon an earlier summary of how to speak with children after a disaster.

Infographic: Helping children cope with a natural disaster by Hollye Jacobs

More from Hollye Jacobs on speaking with children

  • Helping children cope with a natural disaster } a precursor to the post cited here about Oklahoma
  • Discussing cancer with children | addresses the broader topic of talking with children, especially Preschool children, in the context of Hollye and her husband talking to their daughter about Hollye’s breast cancer
  • The Silver Pen. Hollye’s website (which includes her blog posts). In her own words, ” The Silver Pen began as a way for me to document the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and oftentimes hilarious journey through, with, over and around breast cancer. One year later I’m still in recovery but now on a journey to find Silver Linings in all aspects of life.”

Image source. “A woman carries her child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma on Monday, May 20, 2013.”

Do you know this grief?

You are not alone. We honor you, too.

In the midst of all the (well deserved) cheer and hype for mothers on Mother’s Day there is another truth too often hidden because it is painful and pain makes us uncomfortable (so we pretend it isn’t there and keep mostly silent). This post is a small attempt to say “Open your eyes. Open your hearts. Share your love.”

Open your eyes and hearts to women like “…your cousin in Houston whose fertility treatments are failing, your next-door neighbor who had a stillbirth three years ago, or your grandmother who lost a child but could never bring herself to tell anyone about it. For all these women, their hoped-for child comes regularly to mind, and each one will cry on [Mother’s Day] in a way that surprises her.” —Serena Jones, a woman who remembers a longed-for child on every Mother’s Day. She begins her remarks this way:

This Sunday morning, my daughter will make her annual bedside delivery of a “For Mom” greeting card. What fun to guess what sort of handwritten promises she might include: an always-clean bedroom, perhaps, or 365 kisses? Whatever she says or does, I know I’ll give her a big hug, and get misty-eyed.

Fifteen years ago, however, my tears were bitter. In fact, I woke up on Mother’s Day of 1995 and couldn’t get out of bed. I hated the thought of motherhood. In fact, I probably hated all mothers.

My wretched state back then had nothing to do with my own mother. Rather, it was caused by a feeling of personal failure, and a sense that my own body had betrayed me. Only four days earlier I had miscarried a much-wanted, seventeen-week pregnancy. Just as I’d begun to grasp and even revel in the reality of new life, this thrilling possibility ended. Suddenly, I wasn’t “expecting” anymore. The grief felt unbearable.

Worst Expectations by Serena Jones

If you, or someone you love, someone you know, someone you work with, play with, or worship with are touched by this unique loss, this ‘unbearable grief,’ please read the rest of Serena’s (2010) post,Worst Expectations. Her’s is the compelling voice of experience … and hope.

An Additional Online Resource

Saying Goodbye (SG): “Saying Goodbye is a charity offering Support & Services, for anyone who has lost a baby in pregnancy, at birth or in early years.” It’s Mission is “To offer support to all those who need it – whether they have personally lost a baby or are supporting someone who has lost.”

Finally: A Saying Goodbye Film | Every Baby Matters | Spoken Word —

Let us pray for, and love, ALL Mother’s, especially those who are grieving, on Mother’s Day.

“My Shepherd Will Supply My Need”

For those who may need to be renewed in spirit, or those who may need a respite, or those who want to sustain hope in a dark moment, I share this post from the Sunday Morning Forum in which I participate. This arrangement and performance of Psalm 23 has a beauty that refreshes (even if it brings tears to your eyes). ~dan rondeau

Hear what the Spirit is saying

I was reminded of this adaptation of the 23rd Psalm the other day and wanted to share. What a beautiful thing to remember.


(arranged by Mack Wilberg)

My Shepherd will supply my need:
Jehovah is His Name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy’s sake,
In paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay;
One word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode,
And all my work be praise.
There would I find a settled rest,

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Cold Comfort: a poem

Looking up into the sky through branches

One of the bloggers I follow, Diane Walker, posted this on April 18:

The kind words said,
The tender hands
Rest briefly on mahogany,
The hard men come
In their t-shirts and their caps
To drop you here
To rest beside the ashes
Of your love.
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The die is cast,
The dirt and flowers
Thrown into the pit,
The carpet rolled away.
The wailing imprecations
Of the lost and the bereft resound,
Awakening responses in my heart
Too harsh to bear.
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How does Diane end her poem?
Find out: Cold Comfort on her blog Contemplative Photography.
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Image: Diane Walker on Contemplative Photography

Trusting in the mystery of …

… The One Who Does Not Pass Away

One of my favorite daily reads is Fragments of Your Ancient Name: 365 Glimpses of the Divine for Daily Meditation by Joyce Rupp. This is her meditation for August 18th. It speaks to my questions and I pray that it will speak to yours. I do trust “The One Who Does Not Pass Away;” as you well know, some days it is easier than others. Today, with Joyce, I will seek to ‘let go.’

Dorothee Soelle
the writer who has inspired today’s ‘title of God.’

All those useless queries of mine
When a dear one departs this life,
My wondering about the “where,”
The “perhaps,” the “if,” and the “how”
Of their now disembodied existence.
All these unanswerable questions
I hand over into the mystery of yourself,
The One Who Does Not Pass Away.
Take these endless wonderings of mine.
Tuck them into your eternally alive heart.

Today: I let go and let be what is unanswerable.

Joyce Rupp. Fragments of Your Ancient Name. Kindle Edition.

In the depth of winter, I finally learned
that within me there lay an invincible summer.

Albert Camus
Word for the Day on Gratefulness.org, 26 Feb. 2011