“Tears are a river that takes you somewhere. Tears lift your boat off the rocks, off dry ground, carrying it downriver to someplace better.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés
I can always tell when an emotionally dry season is ending for me because tears start flowing at unexpected times.
A dear friend emails that a much-awaited granddaughter has arrived safely and my eyes fill as fast as my heart. I’m reading a stanza from a favorite poet’s collection when a single line hits its target and my cheeks grow wet. I see Lily shake her cabeza during an early-morning combination Skyping-dancing-freaking out session and consciously wait until the red telephone sign-off button is clicked to let go.
Stumbling through grief following his wife’s death, a good friend regularly reported “a strong chance of showers” when I asked how he was. Another friend, whose wife–my former counselor–was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at 55 captured their shared experience surrounding the devastating news, the struggle of caregiving and his reemergence in a beautiful book titled Tears in God’s Bottle. The reference is to a line from Psalms that says God keeps our tears in a bottle and writes each one in His book.
A research study at the University of Minnesota identified tears shed as the result of an emotional experience contain at least one chemical–leucine-enkephalin–that acts as an endorphin or natural pain reliever. “Onion tears,” in contrast, contain different chemicals.
This is a post without a defining conclusion. Tears are. Thank Heaven. And no one, to my mind, has ever expressed it more exquisitely than this.
Photo: Petr Kratchovil @ publicdomainphotos.net