reinhard_sarahA while back, Deacon Tom Fox wrote a column in this space called "The Gift of Tears."  I’m a dry-eyed gal most of the time, and I have always prided myself on that trait.

Nothing says "practical farm girl" quite like dry eyes.

Then I started going to Mass.

I certainly didn't mean to turn into a blubbering mess.  At the time, I was a tough know-it-all college graduate, and I was only there because this good-looking Prince Charming of mine insisted that he had to go before we could go on a date.

My ego and I often don’t fit in the same room at the same time, and I had to go to Mass to find out what all the fuss was about.

And I found tears.

Not just sniffly, polite tears.  Not just leaky-eye tears.  Not just moisture-and-trickle tears.

No, what I found were gallons of tears, buckets of tears, oceans of tears.

It seemed that every pain I’d been storing up came out while I was sitting at Mass over the next few years.  I could ignore my hardships, until I was in a pew facing that altar.  I could be a total nightmare in my dealings with people, but I couldn’t fake it in front of Whatever-it-was at Mass.

I thought -- I hoped -- that everything would change when I officially became Catholic.

I was wrong.

To this day, I’m often overcome at Mass, especially at the response "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed" (which I wrote about here).

Over the years, I’ve come to see the tears as healing.  Slowly, Jesus is washing away my past pains, my current challenges, my future failings.

Like water wears down the rocks and turns them into the sand of a beach, Jesus has been turning my hard heart into a soft place to rest, and I hope, someday, when I look there, He’ll be on a beach towel, waving me to come and join Him.

Yes, tears are a gift, the very best kind.

Copyright 2009 Sarah Reinhard