At coffee today, I found myself having a conversation about tears in church: a terrible embarrassment, or a gift of grace?
I suspect you know where I stand on this.
I hate crying in public. I get annoyed at myself when it happens. But I think it’s absolutely essential that people are free to cry in church. And sometimes (often) I think that the right response from those near by is to do nothing. To accept that tears are normal, that engaging honestly with pain in the presence of God is good, and that we needn’t, shouldn’t try to ‘fix’ it or get it to stop.
I am always grateful if someone is being honest enough to cry in church. And I love it even more if at the same time, others feel safe enough to laugh, to beam, to be unembarrassed in their joy even if their joy shares the room with someone else’s pain.
The apparent gap between laughter and tears — the apparent faux pas of having people doing both at the same time — just evaporates when both come from God.
Now don’t misunderstand me: I can still get frustrated with my own tears. I think it is farcical that in good times or bad, I seem unable to get through Spiritual Direction without a box of kleenex very near by. But on the whole, I am still thankful to God every time I sense the truth coming near: in tears, in laughter, in uncertainty, in hope. In the grace of letting people be present to themselves and to God, whatever that means.