Friday, April 12, 2013
PRISM OF TEARS
Outside the hermitage window a spring snowstorm covers the world anew in white.
The snow muffles sound so there is a particular silence, yet the sun, though hidden behind the clouds, is already high enough, strong enough as we move towards late spring, that the snow is literally dazzling white, a reminder of the brilliant light of the Risen Jesus.
In the weeks since I last posted like much of the world I have followed the actions and words of Pope Francis, especially during Holy Week and this Easter season.
Meditating on a recent word of Pope Francis, reflecting on the person of St. Mary Magdalene and her encounters with Jesus before His passion and after His resurrection, I was struck by the Holy Father’s comments on the reality of tears, of human weeping.
On the threshold of seventy it should surprise no one I am of the generation where tears of any kind for a boy or a man were simply not on.
Crying was female stuff, a sign of weakness for a male and dare any boy-child cry there was indeed hell to pay, which even as a child struck me as rather odd: to stop a boy from crying spank him, itself tear inducing!
Thankfully we have matured as people in our culture to the point where when the Pope speaks of tears and weeping it is clearly wisdom!
The key phrase from Pope Francis is: Sometimes in our life tears are the glasses to see Jesus.
The Holy Father stresses we should ask the Lord for the ‘beautiful grace of tears’, thus echoing the teachings of the early Fathers on tears as a gift of the Holy Spirit referring to such tears as a second baptism.
The Fathers of the Desert stressed continuously the importance of the Holy Spirit’s gift of penthos [tears], for with this gift we weep not only with contrition for our own sins but those of the whole world.
However, as Pope Francis reminds us, tears are not only a gift of contrition they are also a gift of goodness for such tears prepare our eyes to look at, to see the Lord.
In his book: The Heart of the Desert, Deacon Chryssavgis points out that: The silence of tears reflects out surrender to God…..It is the depth of our love that determines the intensity of our weeping. Through tears, we give up our infantile images of God and give into the living image of God.
As I was meditating on all the above about tears I was struck once more by the impact of sunlight not just on the deep snow as a mass, also what happens when the light hits a single crystal of frozen snow.
Anyone who has walked in the bush on a moonlit winter night has experienced the dazzling display of countless diamonds of light as moonlight bounces off the frozen crystals.
In sunlight, a more intense experience of light, crystals become like prisms and what appears, as with a drop of water, window glass, even the glass of my trifocals, as things through which the light pours undimmed, suddenly at the right angle each of those becomes a prism and suddenly all the colours ‘hidden’ in light become visible.
One of my elderly Aunts when I was a boy had a rosary made of crystal beads and whenever she would pray the rosary with us with light hitting the beads the display was awesome.
If we allow the Light of the Risen Jesus to touch our tears then truly we shall behold immense beauty, for Jesus is light from light, true light, come to fill the world, to fill us with His Light, His very self.
To embrace tears is to embrace the grief of not knowing, it is to embrace overpowering joy, to accept, as Pope Francis teaches the beautiful grace of tears as profound encounter with Jesus, an encounter which, as for St. Mary Magdalene, the disciples on the road to Emmaus, will change our entire lives from being bent towards self and the false gods of the world to having our hearts on fire within us, for it is within the depths of our heart that we encounter more fully Jesus who dwells within us.