St. John Climacus offers wise insights and Scriptural guidance in climbing the holy mountain.
He writes thoroughly and in balance, upon the topic of mourning as a gift from God. There are levels of mourning, but a beautiful aspect of tears is when the soul grows tearful and weeps without having purposefully tried to weep. The tears bring added tenderness to the soul; they wash away our sins. Praise His Real Presence for these tears!
On theology and mourning, Climacus notes they do not go together. They weaken each other in any attempt to unite the two.
The difference between a theologian and a mourner is that the one sits on a professorial chair while the other passes his days in rags on a dungheap.
This is truth. Thinking with the head and thinking with the heart are two differing processes, two ways of thoughts.
True compunction is pain of soul without any distraction. It offers itself no rest and thinks hourly of death. It stands in wait of the God Who brings comfort, like cool water, to humble [souls]. And those gifted with the heart's depth of mourning regard their lives as detestable, painful, and wearying, as a cause of tears and suffering, and they turn away from their body as from an enemy.
Tears arrive with varying ways. Consider what brings on our tears in different situations. They come from troubles of earth, troubles of body, troubles of mind, troubles of soul. The ones that come from the realization that we all must die tend to be the tears without guile. They are more pure; they bring the greater glory of God and thus more relief and joy.
In your heart be like an emperor, seated high in humility, commanding laughter: "Go!" and it goes; sweet weeping: "Come!" and it comes; and our tyrant and slave, the body: "Do this!" and it does it.
The man wearing blessed, God-given mourning like a wedding garment gets to know the spiritual laughter of the soul.
There have been tears here this morning, in Te Deum Hermitage. From whence do they come? Well, all tears come from God because He creates our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls. Can the devil initiate tears? One wonders. But rather, turn thoughts to His Real Presence, for He allows all for our good. When we do consider the source of our tears, we can learn to alter the course of their flow.
Tears here from this hermit's body are of pain and sorrow, of a helplessness and hopelessness of circumstances. They are embellished by some memories as well as some darkness of the environment. Intermingled with the more temporal source of the tears, is the recognition of this hermit's failings and definitely of its approaching death. Thus sorrow for its sins enter into the waters, and the tears become a wonderment of God being the soul's sole provider and King.
A Thanksgiving Day phone call to an elderly aunt who sent a Thanksgiving note and a little monetary help.... She had written to remind: Count our blessings. When the aunt answered her phone, she admitted she has been depressed due to weakening eyes and other ails, and facing giving up her car. She has to adapt to a nursing facility in which most of the other residents do not have as clear minds nor desire stimulating conversations of some substance. She admits she must try to do what she can to rise beyond these facts of life. "It is as it is," we each concluded to our individual situations.
The hermit mentioned to her the aspect of not being able to get the hermitage more livable. By now, it is obvious that there is no point in trying to hire workers from this area, for the hermit has been repeatedly financially raped and lied to in the past 20 months or more. The aunt knows this, too, and agrees. We accept. She wishes there would be at least a plumber to help, but no, not one, not yet. The birds get in, probably through a rotted fascia board not replaced when the men put on a new roof. The hermit opens a window and tries to guide them out with the end of a broom motioning the way.
The rats have not been back in for awhile, but they are decomposing under the house. There is no one to help. But, the aunt mentions surely this hermit will be having a Thanksgiving meal with the daughter and her family? No, all the adult children and their families, in various parts of the country, are flying to their father and his wife's lovely home overlooking a golf course, in yet another state.
The aunt was stunned. This hermit mentioned reading in a spiritual book [The Ladder of Divine Ascent] that to hold on to past hurts is to keep malice in and be chained to bitterness. Just because family and friends have lived through with the hermit, the past years of abuse from the marriage and divorce, and the tough times rearing the children and putting much into that good, does not mean that we all should think that others do not have a right to do as they wish. Yet, the reality now is stark.
So these tears this morning have been a mix of the very base roots of physical pain (my, how the body aches with pain!), plus some reminders of past wounds (valid enough), plus then thoughts of this hermit's sins as well as how sin causes divisions (even if we did not perpetrate the particular sins that caused the division), as well as thoughts on hope and hopelessness, helplessness and dependency on God, and finally, that death is a purposeful reality.
The hermit made another phone call to a woman who had sent a note a week ago...a lovely note! It knew the woman and her husband would be at their adult children's for this Thanksgiving Day, but it wanted to wish them a happy day as well as say thanks for the kind note. The hermit's voice began to crack with weeping; and those tears, left as a message for them later, came from the source of love of this friend and the fondness of her goodness.
It is time to attempt dressing and doing a bit of manual labor, but if tears continue to flow--and they can be interior tears that do not fill the eyes or wet the cheeks--they are yet tears. The mind and will can pray that the tears increasingly fill all tributaries emptying into the river and then to the sea, as tears graduating from the lower sources to the holy tears of God as Source.
Weep for the love of God and recognition of our lowliness, and weep that we are aliens in a strange land, that we are not yet there but are making progress. To weep with all aspects of body, mind, heart and soul, is to weep in humility, as one in rags on the dungheap. This is mourning that transcends knowledge or thinking with the head. These tears mix with His Tears and flow into eternity as one whose tears will become joyful laughter.
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love one another! God Is Love! Remain in His Love!