Friday, May 28, 2010
Do tears ever catch you by surprise?
They kept sneaking up on me Wednesday. If I hadn't known better, I would've blamed it on my hair-mones, as my daughter used to say, but no, that wasn't it. It just happens sometimes.
This particular time, I was picking up dog hair tumbleweeds in the den, while Sam was watching Ellen Degeneres interview the twelve year old youtube sensation Greyson Chance. Before I knew it, I was all afluffle and Sam was doing his nervous laugh that means WHAT DO I DO NOW MY MOM HAS LOST HER MARBLES.
I promise, you might have lost yours too. If you're out of the loop, let me just say that Greyson is a fresh faced, normal boy, gifted with a shockingly incredible voice. He was clearly delighted to chat about "Miss Gaga" and how he knew something big was happening to him because the people at Bahama Ice named a snow cone after him and tons of people go there. Then Ellen went and yanked every one of my heartstrings by showing clips of his principal hugging him and his music teacher bragging on him, and that was all it took. Messy tears. Red face.
And this was the second tear ambush of the day!
Just five hours earlier, I was delivering food to a new client on my Meals on Wheels route when the tears surprised me. Mr. Blevens wore slacks and an ironed work shirt with a patch with his first name on it, and as I walked up his front steps, he looked as if he wasn't sure what to do with his hands. I introduced myself and as I gave him his meal, he looked at it and said, "God bless you, ma'am. Thank you. It sure is a good thing y'all do."
"You're welcome, Mr. Blevens. We're happy to do it."
"Uh huh," he said, trying to find a few more words. "It's awfully nice, but I tell you, it doesn't hardly feel right to accept it."
"But Mr. Blevens," I said, searching for what to say, "I bet you've spent your whole life helping people. Now maybe you need to let others do something for you for a change."
Instantly, Mr. Blevens' eyes watered up, and before he could catch it, a tear ran down his face. "We really..." he struggled, and his voice got all gravelly, and I felt my own tears come. "We appreciate this. And you."
He patted my hand and I tried to walk back to my car like a normal person. I waved and went on with my route, feeling like we had shared something holy.
So what are those ambush tears about? The happy tears and the sad tears that show up when we least expect them? The knot rising up in your throat, threatening to embarrass you at work or with friends or total strangers aren't certain of your mental stability?
Maybe ambush tears are actually powerful messages that our souls say to God, prayers that burst out like sneezes, involuntarily, because our bodies can't hold them back anymore, or because the feelings are so big that our pitiful brains can't keep up. Perhaps the tears pray for us, saying, "How beautiful, thank you God, for letting me see this," or "This is grace," or "This grief is too much for me to bear by myself," or "I'm hurting, please help me." The tears speak our prayers to God before our feeble minds can even understand our own feelings.
But God understands them. God speaks that soul language, and more than that, God treasures every salty drop.
You have kept record of my days of wandering. You have stored my tears in your bottle and counted each of them.
Psalm 56:8, Contemporary English Version
How wonder-full that even when we're running around picking up dog hair, just trying to get things done and handle life on our own, knowing God is in the background but not thinking too much about it, God lets our child souls speak up to Him, ambushing us with the prayers He knows we need to express.
You know, I think I'm going to try a little experiment. Want to try it with me?
The next time I'm ambushed with happy or sad tears, I'm going to pay attention to those drops in the bottle. I'm going to back them up with a spoken prayer, and try to put words to what my inner soul is crying out for, whether it's thankfulness or grief.
So today I'm thanking God for giving us gifts that we don't even ask for or feel we deserve. For a beautiful voice and a chance to share it, dropped on the lap of a normal boy. For the chance to accept a meal for free, when you've worked hard all your life long. For a chance to be the one who brings the meal, when you had nothing to do with preparing it or paying for it. For a chance to witness the involuntary prayers of strangers and friends-to-be. For holy, salty, messy tear prayers that speak when my words can't.
So what about you?
I'd love to hear about the last time you were surprised by tears. Did it carry a message, or was it just hairmones?
Have a super weekend, friends!