How Much Do Tears Weigh?

“… my tears in thy wineskin gather; Aren’t they written in your book?”  (Psalm 56,9)

Have you ever tried to collect your tears? To put them in a glass and weigh them on the scale?

Who knows how much tears weigh …

I have never weighed my tears and neither have those of others because the weight of pain is too great to be collected and measured.

I let the tears go, hoping they won’t come back. I don’t like to feel the salt of pain in my mouth. I often want to restrain them out of shame, but they come out forcefully, without asking my permission. They lay me bare, suddenly… just like that, in front of everyone, without shame.

I would prefer, sometimes, not to have to wipe my eyes in front of others, who often get embarrassed and look away because they don’t know what to say, how to help me … Or, annoyed, they cut it short.

But you, Holy Spirit, do something extraordinary: not only do you not be embarrassed and do not run away from my pain, but you collect my tears in a vase, which protects them well from the heat and frost.

You carry them with you on your shoulders, as if they were a precious treasure. You listen to the story of each of us, writing it patiently in your book. You write down how, when and why it came out of my eyes, at what time, on what day and in what year; What pain made it flow on my face, what fatigue it poured it, what misunderstanding hurt it. Then I know that I am loved because there is Someone who is not afraid to take care of everything about me, does not fear and does not even dodge my tears; Someone towards whom I do not have to show myself strong and impeccable. I can be anything I am and for this reason, be loved, without being ashamed of being as fragile as a clay pot.

The Holy Spirit goes one step further. In the miracle of love he gives me “in fatigue rest, in the heat shelter, in tears comfort.” He is not content to guard my tears, to count them, to write them down in his book, but runs thoughtfully to comfort me, to shelter my wounds.

How can he accomplish all this for me?

It must be said that sometimes, when we are hurt, or taken by despair, more than tears of pain we cry tears of anger, thinking: “Did he hurt me? Now he will pay for the harm he has done to me. With my silence, with my refusals, with my indifference.”  We can also have this attitude towards God: “Have you not heard me? Will you let me suffer? Can’t you let me find a job, a boyfriend, a house?  Then I walk away from you in anger. I no longer pray, I do not confess, I do not receive the Eucharist …”.  The angry heart closes itself in this way to every kind of consolation, even that of the Holy Spirit. He therefore does not want to rest; He only seeks revenge and ways to resolve painful situations with purely human strategies: “I will make it with my own strength.”

Instead, the Spirit becomes shelter for me, when I no longer try to “do myself justice” alone. How can I be sure that the friend who abandoned me did it because she wants to hurt me willfully? How can I know what dwells in his heart right now? She herself may be hurt and distressed; She may be confused and not aware of the gravity of her gestures. I therefore entrust my cause to him, to the Paraclete, to the defender, to the One who judges with rectitude. The Spirit then instills patience in me, calm; It teaches me not to be in a hurry to make a definitive judgment about myself and others. Not to say, “This person is like that and will never change.” “I am like that and I will remain so forever.”

In order for all this to happen, we must carve out some time to be able to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit: a hasty prayer of a few minutes a day, cut out between one text message and another, does not help to descend into the depths of our heart and to meet the Spirit who dwells there.

Another experience I have had in my life is that the Holy Spirit also speaks through the people who love me and who patiently perform a work of mercy towards me: “… Weep with those who are weeping.”  (Rom 8:35). People who know how to suffer, collect my tears as a precious asset, without getting rid of them quickly to avoid discomfort or annoyance or embarrassment, and without  it childish.

“This need for consolation, which I feel today in an extraordinarily concrete and pressing way, can no longer be relegated … at individual psychological instance. It is not only this, it is no longer a sufficient explanation.  A child certainly consoles himself, he can and must console himself. An adult more or less has to fend for himself (or at most enter therapy), because he is supposed to have developed the internal tools to deal with difficult moments.”  (Marco Castellani)

But we do not always have all the tools, even if we are thirty or fifty years old … And it is not enough to relegate to the psychologist a deeper task that the Lord entrusts to me.

I myself can be the instrument of the Holy Spirit, who desires at this moment to gather the tears of those who are before me.  Am I available to fill my vase?

“This is how one of the greatest Russian pianists of the twentieth century, as well as a teacher, says: «In my group there was a “brawler”, a boy of eight or nine years practically without family … His name was Akinfa; He was indisposing, he teased everyone, he made fun of other children … He was fighting, and so on. We all tried to exhort him by word and example. But once Akinfa crossed all the limits: he beat one of the companions, took bad words to the adults, committed a small theft. His expulsion was “decreed”, but when the time came to carry out the “sentence” – the moment of detachment – I, I do not know how, burst into tears.

It is at this point that Akinfa’s “second birth” takes place: “He also burst into tears; He asked forgiveness from everyone, for the stolen goods … And he explained to everyone that “in his life” (!) he had never seen a teacher crying for his pupil: that he cried, in his words, “on the soul and life” of a brat. This was precisely the sense of his amazement and desire to get back on the right track.”

The teacher cries for his student, who only then perceives how his life is loved, wanted, welcomed … A teacher cries for his pupil and saves him, more than by good example and words. He shows that this boy is a gift, he belongs to him, he is responsible for it.

(Column “For whom the bell rings “, March 2011)

Suggested Concrete Resolution:

  1. I will try to deliver to the Holy Spirit all my tears, my sufferings, my misunderstandings, the mockery, the negative judgments about me; my loneliness, my physical illness, everything I don’t understand about my life… I will be able to do this in the evening, at the end of the day, and think physically of depositing all that I have in my heart with trust, in the wineskin of the Holy Spirit, who will guard it and take care of me.
  2. I will take care of the tears of others: I will stop to listen, without judging, without being in a hurry to give advice. I will close the telephone, sit down and welcome with love all that will be given to me, and then deposit it in prayer, in the wineskin of the Holy Spirit. I will ask Him for the words or silences that can console the other, with the consolation that comes from Him.

This month’s meditation is by Sr. Simona Panico, AVI

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