This quote from the Women's Haggadah fits so nicely with some of the reflections of yesterday. It's about choice, again, at the level of how we think about ourselves and our "mistakes" or obstacles. Today we have another example in Mariechild's Open Mind -- Women's Daily Reflections for Becoming Mindful.
"Women's wisdom is the wisdom of connection, but the tears that can easily flow from our eyes have been used against us as proof that we are overly emotional, irrational, and unrealistic."
Our emotions -- and the tears that flow for the sake of the connections those emotions help us make -- have been regarded as obstacles to the supposedly more mature wisdom of the mind, of pure cognition. To the extent we have been co-opted by that view, both for ourselves and for other women, we have some reflecting to do.
In my own spirituality of pain, I understand tears as being the way that compassion and emotion are given physical form; a body prayer, if you will. The chemical composition of tears changes when they are produced out of pain or grief.
However, I have had to learn other ways of making tears when I have a migraine, because crying, with its straining of the forehead muscles and added sinus pressure, makes migraine pain worse. I sigh a lot. Sometimes I keen a soft, low sound. I wrap my arms around myself and gently rock. I have taught myself to see these not as indications of weakness (I was born into a "stiff upper lip" family), but as ways I hold my hurting self in a compassionate space.
One can feel terribly alone when in pain. Perhaps these methods also help to ease that loneliness by allowing compassion to freely flow. In that flow is God.
When practiced in this way, the tears or sighing or keening are certainly not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of forbearance, of an admission of pain that does not deny or pretend and thus holds the sufferer in an expansive space. They allow me to suffer with some dignity.
Tears show us the gift of expressing our emotions with immediacy and honesty. How can that be weak? Only when we feel ashamed of them, or deny the feelings behind them, are we weakened. The power and strength of tears allowed means we are facing "life on life's terms," as the 12-Step program says. That is strength.
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