I cried quite a bit last December, reading about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. I cried because of the senseless violence. I cried thinking about all those we lost, and about the families, friends, and neighbors who are most acutely feeling the loss.
But I decided that my tears were going to be tears that would bring some good, tears that signified a deeper hunger and willingness to help bring out the good in all of us. Doesn't it seem natural when facing an evil to commit to more good for everyone and to think of our tears as more than an expression of loss and sorrow but as signifying our greater commitment?
God is behind the good that comes from our tears. God is our infinite divine source. With our tears comes a deeper inhalation of His goodness – a strengthening of the way in which we identify with righteousness and kindness. We're saying it's right that we all be a part of this together.
A psalm says: "[P]ut thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back" (56:8, 9). The Psalmist considered our tears as not just known to God but related to bringing about the good that floods out the enemies of our lives. Anger, hate, loss, fear, and violence find less of a place in our world as God's divine goodness fills our consciousness.
God is not in any way a cause or source for evils or for pain or sadness. But perhaps He is responsible for tears that bring more goodness, moving us to yearn for more good in our lives and commit to helping it play out. There's a right longing that we can find behind every ounce of sadness. It's a God-inspired hope to see all humanity swept up in the life of God's goodness.
Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy had a large hope for us all. It took shape in a number of ways, such as this newspaper, which she intended to "bless all mankind." And speaking of her hope, she wrote: "It comes through our tears, as the soft summer rain,/ To beautify, bless, and make joyful again" ("Poems," p. 45). I find that sentiment comforting.
I'm convinced that God has a way for us to find beauty, blessings, and joy replenished. And that replenishment will happen through our hearts and play out in wonderful ways. At my kids' schools, I've appreciated the thoughtfulness that has come out in response to the shooting. For example, staff made themselves available to parents, and they also tried to address the subject in the appropriate way with the students. I loved that our youngest two weren't forced to wrestle with the subject at school. Our eldest though, both at home and at school, was reassured as to how these things are being conscientiously addressed – and she was encouraged in regard to her own role in helping keep kids safe.
It's all this greater heart that will make a difference. I don't think that actual teardrops are necessary to bring more good. But warm tears of the heart, described in the poem as "soft summer rain," can heal the cold winter feelings from the tragedy, and can make our world better.