Follow the Trail of Tears

Tears are one of our places of greatest vulnerability. In spiritual direction we are encouraged to follow the trail of tears because our tears are a sure sign of the Spirit's presence and activity. Yet many are unable to cry or have not cried in years. Others wonder that if they begin to cry, they will drown in a sea of sorrow and never be able to stop. Finding a place of hospitality for our tears, in ourselves or another, can open up a possibility for healing, comfort and renewal. It takes courage to begin to feel our pain. Sometimes we need the help of others to contain and safeguard our overwhelming grief.

John 11:28-37 (ESV)

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved[a in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

For Reflection and Prayer:
1. If there was a word, a phrase, or an image that sought your attention as you listened, stay with it and listen deeper with Jesus.
2. Place yourself in the story and notice which character you most relate to/with and rest into Jesus’ posture toward you.
3. If any of the emotions expressed in this passage (e.g. consoled, troubled, moved) touch you, linger there and pay attention to what else this may stir in you.

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