“Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” – John 20:11-15
Easter Sunday is more than a week past but we remain in the season of Eastertide. I think of Eastertide as the bright morning glow after the dawn. It is a season of joy and delight. And as such, I am drawn to the gift of tears.
I know. We often see tears as a sign of sadness or pain. Some take pride in never crying or feel embarrassed when they weep. But tears are a gift from God. The earliest Christians knew this.
Evagrius, a 4th-century monk highly sought after for his wisdom, would encourage those who sought him to “pray for the gift of tears.” He believed tears were a sign of a heart that was approaching the heart of God. Teresa of Ávila, a deeply spiritual leader in the 16th century talked about tears as signs of communion with the Holy Spirit. She spoke of tears as tangible testimonies of our longing for the kingdom of God. Our tears reveal that we can see the difference between how things are and how things ought to be.
Tears tell us to look deeper and they put us in touch with essential things of life that we know to be dear or to be wrong. These truths have a way of taking up residence in our hearts and they inevitably draw us closer to God.
The Holy Spirit is a wellspring of joy and the great comforter. The Holy Spirit softens our soul so that we might better understand the compassion of God. And this same spirit inspires us to dance with delight.
Years ago, in an interview the late Desmond Tutu was asked about his favorite prophet. He said that his favorite prophet was Jeremiah and he explained why saying, “[It’s] because Jeremiah cries a lot. I cry a lot too. I cry every day. But think how much God cries! We have a God who weeps…so I cry a lot and always have. But I also laugh a lot too.” Having said that, this champion of justice and compassion let out an infectious laugh. Doesn’t that sound like exactly the kind of thing an Easter Christian would do?