IN THE PRESENCE OF WEEPING
READ: John 11:1-44
“At the sight of Mary’ tears, and the tears of those gathered, Jesus’ heart began to ache … Then Jesus wept. While some of the people said, ‘See how much He loved Lazarus,’ others muttered, ‘He opened the eyes of the blind man, could He not have also kept this Lazarus from dying.!'” – John 11:33-37
Jesus wept. Jesus wept. Something about that moment has taught me something about being fully human and being also divine. Jesus wept.
When I entered the chapel to be about the work of sweeping the flagstone floor, I found Brother Lawrence sitting in the back pew, weeping. The monks here at Greyfriars’ Abbey are not often found shedding tears, or at least, outwardly, but here was the usually cheerful Brother Lawrence weeping with quiet tears. My presence did not seem to change his heart or even the expression of his heart … he kept weeping. Choosing to respect his vigil, I quietly began sweeping at the far end of the chapel, sweeping in a slower, gentler, more reverent manner. I suppose by instinct, I was sweeping prayerfully. But all the time, I sweeping up the dust, I was thinking, “Why is sweet Brother Lawrence so filled with tears?”
Once the chore was done, I decided to sit in a far distant pew, there to be prayerfully present with Brother Lawrence and his tears. Time went by.
In time, the Abbey bells began to ring, calling the Brothers to midday prayers. As it is with Benedictine souls, the call to duty is paramount. Brother Lawrence wiped his face. Then stood and walked over to me, where he placed his hand upon my shoulder. He whispered, “Thank you, my Brother. There are times when my solitude drifts into loneliness. Thank you for ministering to the lonely within me.”
For the first time, I realized that even monks living in a community, monks quite accustomed to solitude even to the point of enjoying it, still get lonely … lonely for a certain someone, lonely for a certain soul that brings a certain something. And it is our belief that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine … and if that be true, then does God also weep … and is it possible that even God gets lonely, lonely for a certain someone, lonely for a certain soul who brings a certain something?
My Loved Ones, never undervalue the ministry of being present with those who weep their tears.
Brother Anthony of the Cross