When did you last have so much deep emotional pain that your whole body sobbed? What has hurt so deeply that you curled up into yourself and released uncontrollable weeping? Have you ever climbed into the back seat of your car because it is the only place you can be 'off the radar' and hidden there (with buckles and lumps hurting your body) let emotions take over your whole self?When have you felt utterly alone in your pain? When has your physical heart ached because of a broken emotional heart? Do you know the experience of a cyclone of agony ripping through your body like a dam break of water down a cliff, wrecking its destruction? Have your eyes been swollen shut from crying? Has your head pounded and your joints ached from the crush of sadness? These are human experiences.
I look back over my life and see them like burning bushes: the ripping birth of a child's body from my own; folded alone in a rocking chair after hearing my gramma has died and I am 2000 miles away from anyone who knows or cares about her; standing beside my mom's death bed after a frantic day of flying from one location to another with Steve finding me flights just as I was able to make them. And well, yesterday.
Where do you go when your heart is breaking? Where do you go to wail and sob and not look like you're coping, for just a little while? It is hard to be a human, sometimes. And the hardness can pile up until something happens that crumbles our strong defenses and the hill comes down. (Could we establish weeping tents where a person could go to weep away their pain? Since we are imagining, these would be stocked with chocolate and pillows.)
In l995 I found myself in Korea on a prayer mountain. The weather is bitter. Drizzling rain, fog, cold that goes into my bones. The mountainside is set up as a prayer walk. [I will not go into the long story of my walk on that mountain - but just jump to this point.] I climbed forty (the number signifying a whole life) uneven steps hewn out of a side of a cliff to arrive at a natural cave about 20 by 20 ft. In front of the cave is a space of grass, maybe the size of an average kitchen. Inside the cave near the back, hidden in dank moodiness is a huge raw rock, over which a life-size statue of Jesus is positioned, his body thrown onto the rough surface and his face and hands distended in pain and tears. I am in Gethsemane. I am utterly alone.
I huddle at the edge of the cave, looking out, watching the rain fall with a sense that my very bad perm is becoming a mighty snarl - feeling biting cold in my bones and growing awareness of the awful pain in the scene behind me. My own soul feels utterly torn with my own pain, my own mountains of wound and sadness crushing any ray of light from my sky. The setting is an exact picture of my own condition.
Suddenly I realized that the weeping Christ deep in the cave is not just weeping for himself, he is weeping for - and WITH - me. Hot rushing presence sweeps over me, and my tears become wrapped in presence. Eventually I am calmed with the joy of being loved and I step out onto the dangerous slippery grassy ledge with no barrier to a rocky fall, and I lift my hands and dance with God. [I think dancing with God must be dangerous - the setting has so many insights to disclose.] I feel like a little kid dancing with my feet on the feet of my big daddy at a wedding.
Yesterday I felt the same identification with God - heard his weeping on the cross, the utter pain of all being torn away. Today I am coping with swollen eyes and aching joints. I feel like I was working yesterday, moving boulders. I ache that way.
Being human means having deep places of pain. There is no way around it.