A confession. I'm a crier. A sniffling sap. A big softie.
Yes. Even at 57 years old, I tear up, well up, weep, if something or someone touches my heart; makes me realize how great it is to be alive; inspires me to remember what a gift from God each day is; what a miracle it is that love happens in this often broken and ugly world. I weep at a corny TV commercials, grateful that the insurance agent arrives to save the day! I weep every single Christmas watching the last scene from the film "It's a Wonderful Life" even though having seen that flick 143 times, I already know that George will be rescued from suicidal despair by his friends and that an angel named Clarence will get his wings.
I weep when I stand with parents at the front of the church and take a little baby from them and hold that fragile and delicate soul in my arms and then drip holy water over that child's tiny forehead, with sacred and ancient blessings. I weep when I sing a soaring majestic hymn, as the organ notes waft above me. And yes I wept when the Red Sox finally won it all in 2004! I definitely wept when I saw my Godson get his diploma last May and flashed back to a day long ago when he had to hold my hand to cross the street.
When's the last time you had a good cry?
Mine was last Saturday night when I really, really overflowed with the water works at a family party celebrating the 25th wedding anniversary of my cousin Darrell and his wife Deb. She had no idea what was coming and so as 100 or so of us huddled quietly in a banquet room, Deb walked through the doors and then saw her life love holding a dozen red roses and then he took her into his arms and then their song played and then they danced slowly in a tight embrace and she wept and heck, we all were blubbering.
Pass the tissues please.
There is something powerful, therapeutic, spiritual, and beautiful about being so moved by an event or a person or an act of love in this life, that we just have to cry. The tears can signify so many things. That we've finally let go of some thought or notion or grief we've hung on to and we can lean into it, let it come. When I finally wept at my Grandfather's funeral, it meant I knew he was really gone and with God, but it also meant I did really, really so, so love him.
Tears remind us what is most important to us in this life. We cry at a wedding because in this hour of joy, we re-learn that love really is the most powerful force in this world, that love is really all we need. Tears signal that we are going into a soul space, deep within, into a mystical realm. We cry in a house of worship because the music or a sermon or a soft spoken prayer gets us closer to God and to our real feelings, nothing held back and so we weep. Art moves us to tears because the best song or symphony or story or painting reveals human truth in a way the everyday just cannot.
I know folks for whom it is still hard to cry. They fear that once the tears start they won't be able to stop. Or men, who still think it is somehow less than masculine to cry; echoes of "Boys don't cry!" holding them back from shedding tears of sadness or joy. Or we can hang on to an outer shell of cynicism or snarky irony to protect us from our tears, to push away deep emotions.
The truth is that crying actually takes courage. Crying cracks us open, reveals our hearts and takes us to the most authentic place of all: being fully human. Remember that the next time you start to tear up and your first instinct is to tamp it down, push it back. Here's a gentle suggestion. Let those tears come. Let them flow. It will do you good. Nothing like a good cry.
So if you find yourself sitting next to me at a wedding, please have a hanky ready. I'm definitely going to need it.