Monday, December 08, 2008

Tears and Fire: Recovering a Neglected Tradition X

The Way of Tears

Tears are thus a sign of transformation, a sign of being in touch with deepest reality. They are a sign of willingness, and of God's working in the person. The first stages of the way of tears necessarily focus inward. But son there is a decided shift. As the emptying process imperceptibly takes place, compassion grows. This compassion grows because of the revelation of one's own wounds. These in turn are recognised to be the wounds of all humanity, and of all creation. The inter-relatedness, the coinherence of all suffering, all sin, and all joy becomes more and more apparent, and one's focus begins to shift outward. Isaac writes eloquently of this compassion:

"The burning of the heart on behalf of the entire creation, human beings, birds, animals—even all that exists; so that by the recollection and at the sight of them the eyes well up with tears as a result of the vehemence of compassion which constrains the heart in abundant pity. Then the heart becomes weak (lit. small) and it is not able to bear to hear or observe the injury or any insignificant suffering of anything in creation. For this reason, even on behalf of the irrational beings and enemies of truth, yes even on behalf of those who do harm to it, he offers prayer with tears at all times that they may be protected and spared; he even extends this to the various reptiles on account of his great compassion infused without measure in his heart, after the likeness of God."[7]

The healing of these wounds is not as the world understands healing, closure and scarring. Rather are these wounds transfigured by tears. By God's grace these wounds become united with Christ's. it is through our wounds that our kenosis takes place, and God's enters in. Our wounds thus kenotically united with God's are the beginning of our glorified body.

[7] Tr. Sebastian Brock; Miller, Ascetical Homilies, p. 82-83; Wensinck, p. 86.


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