Reflections on Mourning and Weeping and Laughing

Turns out I’m not so good at two of those three.  Laughing, I am all over it.  Weeping… well, I’d rather do pretty much anything other than cry.  I don’t know what that is.  I know growing up the only girl on a street with rough & tumble boys didn’t help.  And neither of my folks were much for crying.  I was such a strong-willed child there was just no way I was going to show that I was hurt.  Mad, sure.  Maybe in pain.  But never vulnerable and sad. Not where anyone could see me, at least.  And I’m still that way… sort of.

You see a few years ago I made the mistake of praying that God would soften my heart. I wanted to have compassion and empathy for those around me.  I don’t recommend that particular prayer any more than I do praying for patience.  Because in much the same way, God has placed people in my life and led me into circumstances that are heart-breaking.  That make me cry.  For people I don’t know and sometimes people I don’t like.  And it hurts.  I don’t like it.

But I don’t want it to stop.  I want to get better at it. And I want to find that resolve (stubbornness?) that I had as a child to take a stand for those who are in need of compassion and care from people besides me.  I don’t want to look on and weep for those who are in pain.  I want to bring them comfort and bring my influence (whatever that is) to bear on their situation.

I also want to get better at letting people into my own pain.  Being vulnerable enough to ask for help.  Or enough to allow someone to listen to me snuffle and cry while I don’t have words.  I am coming to see that by pretending I don’t need to cry, I am saying that I don’t need love, support, encouragement, or help from people sent specifically to give voice to the love of my Creator, Sustainer, and Comforter.  I don’t want to miss out of the presence of the divine in the silence of solitude, nor in the embrace of a friend.

I read somewhere (a book- not wikipedia) that the part of the brain that triggers laughter is seated right up next to the spot that controls crying.  It totally makes sense, given the sense of release that both of those expressions of emotion can bring… and when you think about how easily we can begin crying and wind up laughing (or vice versa).   Not the sort of laughing that comes at someone else’s expense, mind you.  This is the laughter that wells up from within, the sort that is uncontrollable as it bubbles up from the deepest place within and draws others in with its infectious joy.

I guess that’s the sort of person  I long to be: One who laughs and cries freely and honestly, embracing the joys and sorrows that life brings my way, and willing to share both with community.


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