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holy tears

The ancient East understood there to be different types of tears, some of spiritual origin and import, or others not. Spiritual tears in themselves were variously categorized and described. They could have purifying power. They might function differently for those just beginning on spiritual journey and for those far along. They could be provoked by memory of sin and well as consideration of the goodness of God, the desire for heaven, the fear of hell, or the thought of judgment.

Overwhelmingly, tears were understood as a gracious God-given gift, a wonderful physical sign that the inner world of a person was being transformed. There is in these ancient Eastern masters a sense of the ongoing cleansing taking place as a person draws nearer to God. Tears thus become, in a sense, a sign of the continuing power of the baptismal waters to redeem the created world.

—Wendy M. Wright, “Tears of a Greening Heart,” Weavings

Overwhelmingly, tears were understood as a gracious God-given gift, a wonderful physical sign that the inner world of a person was being transformed.”


I find this somewhat comforting and confirming of something that I have thought and experience for a really long time. Although I’ve not used the words “spiritual tears,” I have believed that tears often signal the Spirit’s working inside of my stodgy heart works. Dry seasons, life pressures, disappointments, betrayals, fatigue, and other hard things can quickly dry up the life-giving moisture inside our emotional eco system. The Spirit’s interruption to those rhythms of thorns and thistle seem to show up when we least expect it, but mostly need it. Often… people get agitated or embarrassed by those sudden flashes of tears. I’ve come to believe that tears signal not so much our over-whelming grief… as more of a reminder that the presence of God is “there” in the moment, up close, soothing and comforting our thirst for living waters. If I’m right… those tears are pure gift! —MDP


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 12, 2022 at 10:14 am

    I love this passage and your thoughts on it Mike! Tears are cleansing and a physical representation of movement on the inside. I encourage tears, matter fact, I even educate on tears. Where the tear falls from the eye often signifies the emotion attached to it. Tears of relief often come out of the side of the eye; tears of anger fall from the center of the eye; and tears of grief fall from the inner corner. Once we have cried we often feel refreshed & relieved and like some good work has occurred making us either tired or hungry or both. I agree Mike, tears are a God-given gift to our “emotional eco system” (BTW I love that phrase!). Thank you for this post! It has encouraged me more than you will know. 🙂

    • October 12, 2022 at 2:40 pm

      You might have encouraged me also! Just saying… Thank you!

  2. Jeanne Wyatt
    October 12, 2022 at 10:27 am

    Okay then—this is why I cry during hymn sings in church! God is there with me. Great day in the morning!

    • October 12, 2022 at 2:41 pm

      Exactly Ms Jeanne… and the Great Cloud of Witnesses are in harmony also! Love you

  3. Shirley
    October 12, 2022 at 2:52 pm

    Tears reflect compassion, sorrow or joy. The ability to shed tears is a personal characteristic or trait, if you will. I believe in spiritial tears that transcend the ordinary or simple tearing of the eyes. Shedding tears often affords one to release complex emotions instead of utilizing the spoken word. Shedding tears reduces no one.

  4. Nicole
    October 14, 2022 at 7:36 pm

    I love this, Dad. The tears that frequented my face as a young teen and young adult have transformed into completely different tears. They usually come when I’m happy now. They usually come when I’m at peace. They usually come when I’m worshiping Jesus. I love that our tears are a direct connection with our knowing that God is with us and in us and for us. Makes me tear up just thinking about it.

    • October 14, 2022 at 9:47 pm

      You said it better than I did. xo

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