Women weep — all kinds of women for all kinds of reasons. Men weep, too. Usually the more noble the nature of the man, the more in touch he is with his own spirit, the more prone he is to tears.
"Jesus wept" These are two of the most powerful words in scripture. What things brought tears to the Savior’s heart, to the Savior’s eyes?
Joy moved him as deeply as sorrow. When he appeared to the Nephites on the American continent, blessing and teaching, it seems he poured out his soul in tenderness and love for them. After asking that their little ones be brought to him, he knelt with the multitude upon the ground and prayed unto the Father for them, in words that transcended mere mortal experience; words no tongue had power to express. And when they all arose from the earth, he said unto them: "Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is full. And when he had said these words, he wept".
In this instance, the Savior revealed the depth of his emotions before a multitude of men, women and children — giving them an example of the sanctity and beauty of righteous tears — revealing the purity and power of his charity.
Joseph Smith was not afraid to weep before his people. In February 1834, Parley P. Pratt and Lyman Wight arrived in Kirtland with dark news: the Saints in Missouri had been driven from their homes, farms and businesses in Jackson County. It was now winter, and many families were homeless, huddled along the snowy banks of the Missouri River.
As the Prophet Joseph listened to the brethren’s recital, he broke down and wept. "Would that I had been with you, to have shared your fate," was his response.
Even in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord said of his prophet: “Yea, his weeping for Zion I have seen, and I will cause that he shall mourn for her no longer”
Washington Irving wrote: "There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief of unspeakable love”.
Irving knew whereof he spoke. He loved 17-year-old Matilda Hoffman, but was unable to marry her because he had no sufficient source of income. Instead, he watched her take ill and, within two months, die painfully of consumption. “Never did I meet with more intuitive rectitude (integrity) of mind, more native delicacy, more exquisite propriety in word, thought, and action, than in this young creature. I am not exaggerating; what I say was acknowledged by all who knew her,”.
English dramatist Henry Taylor (1800-1886) stated with powerful insight, "He who lacks time to mourn, lacks time to mend. Eternity mourns that" (see gracegems.org).
If we fail to give place for tears, we dry up a vital source of expression and release. If we choke or block the emotions — sad or joyous — that threaten us with tears, we curtail the best within ourselves, part of the “trailings of glory” we brought with us when we came here.
It takes courage to feel and even greater courage to express our feelings. Yet our emotions cleanse us, instruct and inspire us and bring deeper meaning to all we learn and experience in our mortal lives. As the Lebanese poet, Kahlil Gibran, challenged: “But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, into the seasonless world, where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears”.
The seasons of our soul are as vital to us as the seasons and cycles of the earth upon which we live. If we love, we feel. If we love deeply, we give place for the tears of joy and of sorrow that loving brings. "He does not weep who does not see," wrote Victor Hugo.
Tears clarify our vision of things. Edward Bulwer-Lytton said, "Tears are the showers that fertilize the world" (see FinestQuotes.com).
First of all, last of all — woven within all — is our record from the Pearl of Great Price, found in Moses, when God reveals himself to Enoch, teaches him truths and opens miracles before him, until a mighty and righteous people, under the inspired leadership of Enoch, emerges.
And after Zion is taken up into heaven, Enoch is allowed to behold Satan and the great chain of darkness with which he veils the whole face of the earth: "And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept" (Moses 7:28).
The God of heaven weeping for the sins and misery of his children!
The tenderness of heaven rests upon each of us, and most probably tears of sorrow and of joy are shed by that Father who, as Brigham Young said, is truly ours: "each and every one of you are well acquainted with God our Heavenly Father there is not a soul of you but what has lived in his house and dwelt with him year after year".
Are our eyes not watered with tears when we think of our knowledge and our blessings?
Susan Evans McCloud is author of more than 40 books and has published screenplays, a book of poetry and lyrics, including two songs in the LDS hymnbook. She blogs at susanevansmccloud.blogspot.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org