Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Have Seen Your Tears

In this world that tends to be very cold, we can find quick comfort in the revelation God granted the prophet Isaiah: "I have seen your tears." (Is 38: 5) Our hearts cry out to our God morning and night. We need Him to navigate through the complexities of life. Without Him we are nothing and with Him we have everything we will ever need.

In moments of sadness whether we are mourning the loss of a loved one or undergoing some challenge that has struck us to the depths of our heart, we can be assured that God our Heavenly Father has, indeed, seen our tears. We are assured by His very Son, Jesus Christ, that we will be helped. "Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted." (Mt 5: 4) But the question at this point must be, who will do the comforting?

It is our responsibility to become comforters at any given moment.  If we do not, then the world will become even colder than it already is for someone who is undergoing a challenge at the moment.  It is an amazing feeling to become an instrument of God.  It is a humbling experience that elevates the soul to unbelievable heights.

Once, many years ago, I was humbled to unwittingly become just such an instrument.  It all came in an unlikely place.  In those days I worked the late shift and traveled to work using mass transit.  There was about an hour where I had to wait for the next bus to the office.  It happened to be over the noon hour and my time was spent in the airport where my connections occurred.

The little chapel in the airport held Mass every day at noon.  I decided it would be a great opportunity to attend Mass daily.  One day, as I awaited the start of Mass, a very well-dressed young woman, apparently in her late twenties or early thirties, entered the chapel and sat not two or three seats from me.  As I knelt in silent prayer, I became aware of a soft sobbing coming from the direction of the young lady.  At first, I thought it was my imagination.  But as the moments passed, I realized that the sobbing was coming from the young woman to my left.

I didn't want to look so as to avoid embarrassment but I could not help myself as her crying grew louder and more painful with each tick of the clock.  It was just a few minutes before Mass began and the chapel had begun to fill.  Those entering could not help but hear her since the both of us were in the back row.  They stared, trying to figure out what was going on.  Finally, I decided that I must do something to see if I couldn't help her in some way.

I reached out to her and touched her on her shoulder.  She lifted her head from her hands, revealing a face marked with agony and stained with tears.  I asked her if there was something that I could do for her.  To my amazement, she moved to my side and put her head on my shoulder and began weeping even more loudly.  I was stunned, not expecting a reaction such at this. 

The priest and deacon who were preparing for Mass noticed the commotion.  They came to the back of the chapel to see what the matter was.  I was as puzzled as they were.  They motioned to me to bring her to the sacristy, a small room no bigger than a large closet, so she could have some privacy and compose herself.  I gently led her to the little room and closed the door as the Mass began. 

She sat on a small stool in the middle of the room and I pulled up the only chair available.  I looked into her tear-filled eyes and asked her what was wrong.

"I've sinned a terrible sin," she managed to say, chocking back the emotion.

"Tell me about it" I said, not really knowing what to do.

She began to explain that she had recently broken up her relationship with her boyfriend who she had been with for a number of years.  The split occurred because she found herself pregnant and wanted to keep the baby.  The boyfriend would have nothing to do with this notion and apparently demanded that she have an abortion.  She strongly resisted the notion because she felt that abortion was wrong.  He began to pressure her and kept increasing the pressure until she finally succumbed to his demands and had the abortion.  She fully expected things to be fine after the procedure.  That proved not to be the case.

Shortly after the abortion, the boyfriend declared to her that he had found someone else and that he was leaving her.  Her tears that day were due to the abortion and not the boyfriend for she realized that when the boyfriend left her, he did not care for her and certainly did not care for the unborn child that had been disposed of.

For the next fifteen minutes we spoke of what had happened.  I listened more than anything else, not really knowing what to say.  As time passed, her composure returned.  As she spoke, her voice became stronger and she began to smile a little.  She thanked me for listening and helping her.  I assured her of God's love for her and told her that none of us is free from something that we deeply regret.  With that, she rose from her stool, turned toward the door, looked at me one last time, and thanked me for being so understanding.  Then she left and disappeared into the crowded corridor of the airport.

I could not believe what had just happened.  It was completely out of the blue.  I was humbled that God had chosen me in that moment to be an instrument of His kindness and compassion.  In that moment, I was inspired to listen to this woman who was overcome with a sense of guilt where her abortion was concerned.  I have no idea why I was chosen for this role, but what I learned from it has filled me with awe since that day.

Comfort does not come out of thin air! God made us as social beings. We have an innate need to reach out to others, to touch their lives at specific times during their lives. It is a need that resides in the very core of our being. Too often, however, we ignore this need or, even worse, we deny its very existence. But recognize it or not, the need is present and must be expressed in some shape, manner, or form.

Who comforts us as we mourn our losses? God, obviously! Through us. Since God dwells within all who believe and seek to live out His divine will, we become instruments of God in every aspect of our lives.  We must become aware of His presence within us so as to be available in those moments when others may be in need to be the compassion of God at that time.  In this way, we can be assured that what God has said and promised is true.  "I have seen your tears."  (Is 38: 5)