It’s just me, crying again at something sentimental, or happy, or sad, or scary, or...life. Sometimes the tears come unexpectedly, but most times I know when they are on their way. I accept them more willingly now because now they tell me I am close to Spirit. And because I don’t care if people make fun of me anymore. I do still try to control them (the tears), but I’m learning to let them flow more freely. I just wish they would be a little more inconspicuous when they show up. Turn away or join me in this moment of tears. It’s hard to watch people cry. We usually cry with them or turn away.
Hello, my name is Maureen and I’m a crier. I cry.
I can trace this particular trait back to my mother. She too would cry. Though, I don’t think she cried as easily as I do. My mother was tougher. Growing up in Jersey City with an Irish mother from the Emerald Isle who didn’t have time for tears, my mother developed a strong sense of self and so life touched her in a different way, as it does all of us.
Growing up we went to Church every Sunday. There was no fighting it. The fight was just wasted energy if we tried. We wasted a lot of energy.
Church provides great crying opportunity. Not that my mother was looking to perform in and at this particular venue, but she knew the possibility of tears was great, and so before getting out of the 4 door wood- paneled station wagon that held her brood of children, she would do a mental and sometimes whispered checklist of items needed for the occasion: Tissue, check; Canned good, check; mints, check; envelope, check; Jackie O styled prescription sunglasses, check. The sunglasses were usually first on her list. Their wide dark lenses encased in a brown/black frame provided the perfect place for protecting the tears that would hide behind them.
We would all pile out of the car in our Sunday best, which as the years went on morphed into our Sunday rebel, wearing jeans and casual clothes. Mom permitted such rebellion as long as we were clean, our teeth brushed, and no holes in our clothes. She would move along, humoring us with our perceived ‘all knowing’ attitudes, trusting that life, and love and God would soften our inner rebel along the way - though she knew and embraced her responsibility in this softening.
And so we would go and start our sojourn, walking single file into the majestic dark gray stone building with a steeple on the top that housed God. We must have looked akin to something like a Make Way for Ducklings illustration, all of us following her into Church. I will title this particular image then, Make Way for Mary, my mother’s name. Mother Mary showing her children the way. And you had to make way. There were a lot of us to fit in.
Filing into the pew, my mother would position herself between us depending on who needed separation, and who needed a push together. She knew the need. She always knew the need and offered her spiritual salve weather we wanted it or not. Ok, now I am visualizing A & D ointment. This was another salve she always had on hand too, but not at church and I digress…
In Church, we would sit, kneel, stand, and repeat. We went through the mass following her lead. I loved watching my mother in church. She totally connected with God.
And then came the hymns, the soulful songs that brought forth the needed checklist items, specifically, kleenex and sunglasses. Whenever she forgot them, she would at times get visibly frustrated.
I remember on occasion her whispering ‘Crap!’ as she dug through her purse searching for supplies. That was the extent of her colorful language, at least when we were younger. When she got divorced later on she extended her repertoire of colorful words, but not in church, and I digress again…
Of all the songs and hymns at mass, the one that captures the essence of a Catholic Sunday morning worship is usually the one played at the end of mass. It is the one that holds the essence of the morning message. This is when I would watch. Would she or wouldn’t she cry? I had learned the skill of only glancing over to see because one day she caught me staring and waved me off. “Stop watching me!” She whispered annoyed, continuing to look straight ahead. So I would slightly turn my head trying to use only my eyes to look sideways at her. Then I would listen to the song. It had to be a good one for the tears to come, like Be Not Afraid or Amazing Grace or On Eagles Wings. I don’t know why I was so intrigued and mesmerized by my mother crying. Maybe it was because I thought Moms weren’t supposed to cry. After all, my mom was a super hero. Crying meant something was wrong, and these hymns were Kryptonite to her resolve.
After the song would end, she’d quietly wipe her tears and we would file out with the rest of the parishioners. I asked her one day why the songs made her cry. She said the songs made her think about how much God loves us and she gets filled up.
As a child, I would try to wrap my head around how and why that would make someone cry. Isn’t that a good thing? Shouldn’t we be joyful about that and smile, not cry? I didn’t get it. I didn’t get a lot of things. I am a late bloomer for sure.
Now when I go to Church, and the same songs play along with a few others, I too get filled up and I know. I know she is there holding my heart and watching me cry.
(video credit you tube:Beatriz Published on May 10, 2016)