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The Focus of Tears

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, so I took a digital fast.  I love Yom Kippur, especially the Kol Nidre service at night.  I always cry when our rabbi sings the opening prayer because you hear his entire heart being sung into the words.

So it was fitting that on Yom Kippur Day, he began his sermon by asking us to turn to someone sitting near by, introduce ourselves, and tell them the last time we cried.  We turned around to the couple behind us.  The man informed us that he didn’t know the last time he cried, and he implied that he never cried.  The woman told us that she cried inwardly when the rabbi asked us to talk about crying because it was just something she didn’t do.  And then I informed them that while I hadn’t yet cried that day, I probably would.  And I had definitely cried the day before.

“Why?” the couple asked.

“I don’t know.  I often cry when I’m reading a book and something strikes me as sad.  I’m reading a book now that is making me cry a lot.  I cry at movies.  I cry because something is moving.”

“You cried last night,” Josh reminded me.  “When you were talking about the death penalty with the kids in the car.”

“Oh,” I said, brightly.  “Yes, I cried then.  And I cried when the rabbi sang Kol Nidre.”

And then five minutes later, I cried during part of his sermon when he talked about his kids growing up.

I loved his sermon because it was about looking long and hard at the things that move you to cry instead of trying to suppress the urge to weep.  That crying is a good indicator that the triggering event is something important to us.  And yes, he spoke very specifically about crying and infertility because the Torah portions back at Rosh HaShanah were both about infertility.

And his point: you cry with infertility because you want children to parent so badly.  And that it’s not only okay to cry but that we should cry because crying is an extension of how deeply our heart longs for our infertility to be resolved or for our children to arrive.  He told us that crying is a form of prayer, perhaps the deepest, most intense form of prayer, because we are laying our heart bare.  Our tears are saying, this is really really really important to me.

Have I mentioned how much I love my rabbi?

Sometimes when he talks, I start crying because he speaks so deeply to my personal truth.  He has this magical ability to dig around in congregant hearts and make everyone walk out of shul still mulling over what they found in there.

So when was the last time you cried?  And what was it that moved you to tears?


1 Charlotte { 09.24.15 at 7:42 am }

Wow. I am not even Jewish and I wish I could have been there to hear his sermon. It sounds like an absolutely beautiful talk that probably more people than just your congregation could benefit from.

The last time I cried was Tuesday, when I was watching the live feed of the Pope land on US soil for the first time. Yes, he represents my religion, but more than that he represents all that is good in the world, and there was just something so beautiful and comforting about that.

2 SuzannaCatherine { 09.24.15 at 8:20 am }

I cry at some TV commercials. The first time I remember crying was back in the 60s when they showed the Indian with the tears in his eyes because of pollution. Always at the Save the Children and the Humane Society ones. I cry when they show forms of cruelty-and then I have to change the channel.

My father was military and a news junkie. We ate our dinner with the sights and sounds of War in the background. (Now I realize why I was such a nervous child.)

Your Rabbi must be such a blessing to your community. He sounds like a very wise man. I, too, wish I could have heard his sermon and his singing.

3 Amel { 09.24.15 at 8:21 am }

Your rabbi is awesome! Imagine being asked to do just that in a church! WOW! What a tender moment to share!

I think infertility has probably broken my dam. Or maybe aging has to do with it, as well? I noticed that my mom got more tender as she got older and she cried much more easily and it’s happening to me, too. When I was a teenager (the rebellious years) I used to think it was better to keep cool and not cry (esp. in public). During my infertility’s darkest moments, it was impossible NOT to do so and yes, I find that crying without restrains is purifying my soul. It’s cathartic.

So to answer your question, when was the last time I cried? This morning. And I’m pretty sure I cried yesterday, too (and I’m not even PMSing – I cry even more easily during PMS).

4 Heather { 09.24.15 at 8:22 am }

The last time I cried? Last night. Over so many things. I never really considered myself a person who cried a lot. But this summer? I would classify myself as someone who cries a lot. So much change in my life right now.
It will all work out. But there are times where it just hurts or sometimes, rarely, they are tears of joy.

5 a { 09.24.15 at 8:43 am }

We watched The Woman In Gold last night (really good – even with Ryan Reynolds in it – everyone should watch it), and that had me tearing up a bit.

6 ANDMom { 09.24.15 at 8:44 am }

Sigh, a lot lately, but the last time I specifically cried was reading the end of the Indian in the Cupboard to my kids last night. Putting the Indian back, saying goodbye even when it was hard, just because it was the right thing to do.

And I’m pretty sure I’m going to cry again shortly because I have to go deal with people who refuse to do the right thing, even when the right thing ISN’T hard or murky.

7 fifi { 09.24.15 at 9:23 am }

That photo of the drowned Syrian boy. I want to pick him up and hug him. Getting teary just thinking about it.

8 Sharon { 09.24.15 at 9:27 am }

The last time I cried was a couple of days ago while listening to a young woman on NPR talk about how her sister, niece and nephew were murdered by the sister’s husband and how she now devotes herself to educating younger women about domestic violence.

9 Working mom of 2 { 09.24.15 at 10:26 am }

Last night in the shower, thinking about my dad and how for a few days we foolishly started to believe he might make it.

10 Summer { 09.24.15 at 3:21 pm }

Right now, reading this post. Thank you for sharing your rabbi’s words.

11 Chris { 09.24.15 at 4:19 pm }

Not sure what day it was, but it was this week- the days are blurred together by too much work and too little sleep. We’re starting the march to a rough week every year for me. There is a span of 3 days in early October where I got the nerve disease that has plagued me since I was 18 and then 2 days later in separate years lost both my grandfather (who I adored) and my mom who was my absolute best friend. My body starts feeling it and knowing by mid September. Knowing that this will be my 10th birthday without her- she died exactly one week before my birthday- always makes this a tough time of year and again the too much work/too little sleep combined with this time of year has made me weepy.

12 Mina { 09.24.15 at 4:36 pm }

Two hours ago. I miss my mum and dad. And my grandma. I miss them every day. I miss them watching my kids grow up. I miss them being here for me. I miss the good parts of how we were when I was a child.

13 Northern Star { 09.24.15 at 9:17 pm }

Oh wow, beautiful post. I cry all the time too – last time I cried was this morning. I love the idea that crying is a form of prayer. Makes me tear up haha.

14 Jamie { 09.25.15 at 2:31 am }

Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing. It is so good and comforting to hear about someone sharing that crying is a good thing and has purpose. I cry pretty easily. I am not sorry about being a sensitive person who feels deeply. Glad that you and Josh were able to share with the other couple about the different times you cried. Crying is not weakness. It is an action of brave acknowledgement.

15 conceptionallychallenged { 09.25.15 at 6:01 am }

Thank you for sharing, this was so beautiful. I love that you told them about all the things that make you cry. I also cry at touching parts in books, or even commercials. Last, maybe an hour ago, about that kindergarten separation angst. It’s always been like this but the last years have made me even more prone to crying. And I think it is true that it also means my heart is more exposed. And perhaps because of this I always liked the part where Harry’s many emotions were, in a way, protecting him from Voldemort.

16 Mali { 09.25.15 at 6:29 am }

I cried about an hour ago, when winners of competition were announced on TV. I cry a lot at happy events – medal ceremonies, moving moments, love … You name it, I cry. I never used to cry though. Infertility taught me how to cry, and I’m still trying to figure out how to close them. I cry less about sad or difficulty things – I’m not letting myself cry about my mother and what she’s going through at the moment, and what it means. It’s easier not to, in fact. Not right now anyway.

17 Anon mama { 09.25.15 at 12:27 pm }

Wow. I’m really impressed that your Rabi would ask such a deep, personal question. I’m not Jewish and I’m barely religious but trying to ask my self that question in my head and responding honestly is hard. I hate crying. I do it more than I would like to admit. I honestly can’t remember the specifics of the last time I cried, like why or when, but I probably do it once every 2-3 weeks. But admitting something personal out loud, even to just myself is hard. I’m impressed that your Rabi challenges people on such a deep level because the religion I was raised in taught everyone to smile and pretend like life is perfect. We didn’t talk about anything deep or meaningful.

18 Heather { 09.25.15 at 3:06 pm }

I’m actually tearing up reading this post. You sure have a special rabbi with a special message. I was near tears just now trying to get my toddler into his PJ’s. Quite a few battles today. But sometimes it’s good to have a good cry out to God. It’s like a release.

19 loribeth { 09.25.15 at 9:25 pm }

Last weekend, we went to see the movie “Everest” in 3D IMAX, about the 1996 expedition that Jon Krakauer wrote about in his book “Into Thin Air.” I’d read the book & remembered the events, so I knew what happened, but there are a couple of phone calls near the end of the movie that pack quite an emotional wallop. The sort of funny thing is, I was crying & my 3D glasses (overtop of my regular glasses) started fogging up & I had to take them off because I couldn’t see the screen anymore, lol.

I also got teary this morning, watching the Pope visit Ground Zero in New York City & hearing the children’s choir sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

20 Jess { 09.26.15 at 11:11 am }

Beautiful, beautiful post. I think that having easy access to tears means that you feel things deeply, that your heart is less internal and more external. I cry at the drop of the hat when things are moving — either because they remind me of loss or tough times, or they remind me of overcoming such things, or they remind me of happy times past or to come. My English co-teacher often makes fun of me for crying when I read student work that is moving, not in a mean way, but I think it’s a boon, not a weakness. Your rabbi is so super special, and I love his words on infertility. That would have made me cry, too. The last thing I cried over was an article that appeared on Huffington Post about being an adoptive mom… it made me AND Bryce cry because it felt so spot on and gave us insights as to what’s to come: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-lynn-harris/dear-mom-of-an-adopted-child_b_7267898.html

21 Lori Lavender Luz { 09.27.15 at 12:15 am }

Oh, my. How I adore this: ” Our tears are saying, this is really really really important to me.”

Yes. This is how we bring together sad tears and happy tears.

Even though it can be burdensome to you, I love the way you care so much about so much.

22 Lori Lavender Luz { 09.27.15 at 12:17 am }

Oh. I cried from exhaustion and gratitude the other day when I realized my son was going to be OK.

23 Torthuil { 09.27.15 at 7:31 am }

Oh wow what an amazing post and experience. I cried last night holding my baby as she was falling asleep. She has been sick with a cold. For some reason I started imagining her as a very old woman, in the last days of her life. And I felt so terribly sad that I wont be there to hold and comfort her then. Yeah that’s what I think about at 3am.

24 JustHeather { 09.27.15 at 1:15 pm }

I would love to hear your rabbi talk. He sounds amazing and so compassionate.
I cried today, while at the park with our family. I was busy reading an article on my phone about a mom who almost killed her son with major nut allergies because she forgot to read the cookie package (just once).

25 LN { 09.27.15 at 7:31 pm }

Wow. Crying as a form of prayer. Suddenly, I seem very devout because I am a crier.

I finished reading HP to E last night. I cried before reading the epilogue because I knew that it was the end of an era. I cried during every sentence of that epilogue. E held my hand and whispered, “It’s okay, Mommy.” Then I cried when I finished. I told him how when you finished reading aloud Book 7, you started up immediately with Book 1 to show that Harry Potter will always be there, immoral. E asked if I’d do that too, so I reached for it and started reading about the Durstleys. When I went back to my room, I cried again. Rowling described Harry watching the a hogwarts Express pulling away with James and Albus as a kind of bereavement, and that’s what it felt like to me. I cried, and I continue to cry.

26 Billy { 09.28.15 at 2:29 pm }

IF related.. about not being able to bring a sibling for Butterfly. But actually I want to cry and let it out but I also stop myself, don’t want to feel all those emotions. (yes, I do know it is best to just cry it out)

27 Tiara { 09.29.15 at 8:30 am }

I feel the urge to cry many times a day…but am afraid to allow myself to. I am afraid if I start crying, I’ll never stop. Every once & awhile I’ll allow myself a good ugly cry in the car.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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