[I blogged this post a year ago, when Cameron turned 6. Tweaked here for today – because tomorrow he’ll be 7.]
Our Cam, he makes me laugh so much – the way he puts on accents and speaks fluent Minion. But when he gave his first cry in that C-section theatre at 05h19 on 7 April 2008 – I started crying too and it feels a bit like I’ve been crying ever since. Not in a freaky, emo way. Not at all. In a really good way. I wrote in the acknowledgements of Dragons and Dirt: To Cameron and Scott. You broke open Mommy’s heart and I found an abyss of love that must have been there all the time. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My arms aren’t strong enough and a lifetime isn’t long enough to hug into you how much I love you. Because they’ve taught me to feel magnificent, terrifying things and they’ve sluiced dammed up tears to water new ground I’m ploughing.
Apparently tears are all different. Like, onion-peeling tears don’t contain all the protein-based hormones of Bambi’s-mom-got-shot tears. And I’m wondering what place tears have in this faith journey.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
And I think how I’ve cried all sorts or tears. Been alive in all sorts of ways. Before and after producing two humans.
I cried when I fell off my bike and when that teacher humiliated me and when my cousins were killed in a car crash. I cried every time I glimpsed more of my own depravity and tasted more of God’s grace. I cried when that boy broke my heart and when I was trying to figure out PMS. I cried when I was homesick and the youth hostel was full. I cried at the end of my first day – first term – first year of teaching from exhaustion and inexperience. I cried for that Matric boy on his last day of school when he told me he didn’t have tears of his own anymore because he’d cried too much when his mom died and ‘it kind of stuffed me up,’ he said.
I cried in the passage outside the doctor’s rooms the morning they told us Cam was blind. Years later Murray told me that he wouldn’t survive seeing me cry like that ever again. He cried when we got home. Leant hard against our bedroom cupboard and wept.
In those breastfeeding-nappy-changing days I sort of held it together, mostly. Waited for acceptable excuses to sob – convenient triggers – like slamming my fingers in a door or watching August Rush. And God collected those stolen tears, too. He used them to wash away my own cataracts and suddenly both joy and pain, mine and other people’s, came into startling focus.
All those years – all those tears – not one went missing. He scooped each one from dust or disaster or day’s end.
These days, I cry for sad adverts and I cry with people who walk through infertility or cancer or the death of a child. I cry when people worship with abandon or adopt babies or put on nativity concerts. For the first many months of Scott’s life I teared up when I just looked at him because I saw green pastures in his blue eyes. And the tears still dam up against my resolve pretty much every time I stand up to talk but God keeps calling me to stand up and talk.
And I want to teach this seven-year-old son about tears. I want to teach him the rest of Psalm 56 and show him how there was nothing emo about David. Knowing that God took note of his sorrows empowered him. He was mighty of heart. Confident. Fearless. Rescued. Secure. He walked in God’s presence and life-giving light. I want to teach my son that God’s ways and wisdom are perfect. His intentions and intentionality are flawless. Nothing is wasted in God’s economy of experience – not even tears. And until God calls us home to where there are no more tears he drops them onto his canvas – turns them to watercolours to paint our stories. Because he causes all things to work together for our good. Because he rejoices over us with singing and because he calls us beloved and if we understood that even a little we could do nothing but fling ourselves into a life of brave, beautiful worship.
And always, he will take his glory.
. . .