BEHIND THE TEARS
I cried and cried and cried. I have been crying everyday for months. I am still crying.
I told myself many reasons why I could not stop. It is my kids leaving home to go to college; it’s my friend’s illness; it’s the idea of moving to a new home and leaving the protection of the walls I know so well...
Every time I cried, I looked for something that would justify the uncalled tears inundating my eyes, that would make my chest heat up, full of something I could not put into words. And while the departure of my kids or my friend’s disease indeed make me sad, most of my tearing had nothing to do with them.
I cried at home, in the streets, on the phone. I cried watching the sun rise and set, at the sight of a baby, and hearing a bird singing in the distance…I cried watching a movie, listening to the radio news, singing a soft rock song.
I just could not stop crying.
My tears seemed to come and go as they pleased—when I was not sad nor felt like crying either. In a way, they were very impersonal. And yet, at the same time, everything that happened around me somewhere felt deeply intimate. It was as if I had made mine, as if I had taken possession of something—an event, a situation, an encounter—that originally did not belong to me, but whose emotion, the feeling it provoked in me made it mine. I knew it did not belong to me, but I was partaking of the experience of it nonetheless, as if I had been invited to commune with it.
I cried translating my Teacher’s writings, reading a mystic’s life, and wording the prayers of the beguines. I cried while meditating, while watching the plums and apples redden, and while smelling the lavender flowers that grow in my garden. I cried when a child got hurt and when another happily licked a lollipop as big as his face. It is as if I was raw, my skin too thin to stop anything from coming in.
It was not that I was clinging to the emotions that came either. Tears came and went as things and events came and went. Water flooded my eyes in the very moment when the feeling, the emotion of the experience took place…and then they left. I wanted to find an explanation to what was taking place, but all I felt was confusion.
I ended up believing that I was falling into some kind of depression. I thought I needed some medicine…to go to the doctor or to a new therapy. I took on yoga.
But every yoga class ended with me leaving as fast as I could, barely waving my hand good-bye, so that no one would see my tears falling. It felt that the relaxation, the opening of my chest, the stretching of my tight body, was not a remedy but rather a pill which made more acute this already hypersensitive state.
What was really happening to me?
Was I getting too old and weak?
Was I going mad?
Finally I shared my concern with a group of meditation friends…just to put the situation out in the open and get some perspective. A few kind and true observations were given—that after all I am Latina and one that is very emotional. Talking about this brought a few laughs and a few more tears.
Later we fell into silence and we meditated. And it was then that I saw something, which suggested like a kind of answer, something quite vague in the beginning that slowly began to take shape.
Yes I was raw; yes my skin had thinned up to the point of not being able to stop anything from coming in… Everything was too close to me. Everything touched me to my core—the taste, the smell, the touch, the hearing, the sight—of… and this is what surprised me… of life happening… the beauty and the horror, the joy and the pain; I was experiencing everything first hand without any packaging, unveiled, and uncooked.
Like a door opened in that moment and I understood something.
God lives in the myriad expressions of the life I was experiencing so intimately. He was present and I was experiencing Him, in my own body, through my own heart and my own senses. God, Life had been touching me so deeply… and I was able and lucky to feel it. Life and I were interlaced in the sense that I felt it as if whatever was taking place, was happening to me directly even though I was, and I knew I was, just a witness. The main character was life itself happening. But I was so identified with it that it felt like it was happening to me…and it was happening to me, in a sense it was, and in a sense it was not. It was both. A degree of oneness.
So I knew. I know. My crying, the tears in my eyes at this very moment are grace.
By Alex Warden