My dear Richard Rohr, you offer me such unexpectedly healing words. You are a kindly Franciscan man from New Mexico, someone I feel close to even though, really, I don’t know you from Adam.
You say, (in Everything Belongs p.152) that ‘Western man’s (and women’s no doubt) work is to learn to descend, to go down into the tears.’ You talk of a unity and maturity where tears of happiness and sadness flow easily together. You briefly touch on how you have needed to learn to relinquish ‘your German, educated, male embarrassment at the inefficiency of these tears,’ and how they can be rejected as they slow you down.
What a relief.
I have for some time thought I was going through a (very light and relatively breezy) form of male menopause. I mean, I have been quietly alarmed at my willingness to burst into tears over the Bargain Hunt contestant who makes a profit at auction, over the redemption story arc attached to most reality shows, over the care, consideration and good humour shown by the GP’s on Gp’s Behind Closed Doors, over Songs of Praise for goodness sake!!
The more innocuous the good story is, the easier it seems for me to bubble up.
Quite quite unusual, embarrassing and pretty much unlike me. Ever since I have turned fifty my sensitivity and tenderness button has been cranked up to warp factor eight. But my response has been nothing like the manly stereotype of buying a new red BMW.
All this blubbering has up until now been seen by me as an inconvenient, guilty, illogical and very very secret affliction of the soul. But what if its got something to do with having upped my time meditating, waiting and generally seeking out stillness. What if its about moving into a maturity within my maleness? (I still inwardly flinch at that notion, but at least am more willing to ask the question)
I have, until The Grenfell disaster, avoided watching TV News, as the daily parade of bloodshed, disaster, inequality and poverty has physically hurt too much. I mean it has made me feel like I want to take to bed and not get up again.
But Grenfell has been different, it has been somehow grotesquely mesmerising. I have been glued to these events, willingly I have rolled into the vicarious pain, spent much time centring my thoughts and prayers of hope for the people involved to be held, nurtured and met within their anguish and distress.
There has been a strange comfort in the tears, in the feeling of being somehow a part of a nations opening up in the wake of such profound loss that is beamed daily into our living rooms. Tears and something bordering on comfort and connection in actually flowing into feeling a heavy heavy heart of thankfulness as well as pain. Thankful to all those people who are imperfectly, ardently, energetically trying to help family, friends neighbours and foe, help fractured people and a community negotiate the mess, shock and incomprehensibility that is life.
And yes Mr Rohr, I too want to be and grow in my abilities to be freely able cry from the heart, laugh (and give thanks) from the belly and to give without noticing.