“Ode to Joy” (Ode an die Freude, L.v.Beethoven & F.Schiller) moves me to tears. Go to www.youtube.com and you’ll find several choices: flash mob gatherings – choose between Sabadell (Spain), Omotesando Hills (Japan), Nürnberg (Germany), or Hartford, Connecticut, there’s even one from Minnesota – or excerpts from movies, and excerpts from orchestral and choral performances. This is not an advertisement for YouTube, or for Beethoven. It is an invitation to beauty, to joy, to be moved to tears.
I had to learn tears. As a young man, suffering from too much testosterone and trying to get my “man card,” I was taught that tears were never appropriate. The end of “Ol’ Yeller” and the end of “Brian’s Song” were the only two times a young man was allowed to cry. That permission only came from Bill Murray, in the movie Stripes: “Who saw ‘Old Yeller?’ Who cried when Old Yeller got shot at the end? Nobody cried when Old Yeller got shot? I’m sure. I cried my eyes out.”
“Jesus wept.” My dad told me that it’s his favorite verse. Maybe he likes it because it’s short and easy to memorize, or because of the depth of its meaning: Our Son of God, so moved by the death of his friend and the suffering of family, friends and community, sheds tears. Because, God made us like this. Created in the image of God is what Genesis tells us. We were wired this way. Perhaps it’s a sign of the Holy Spirit. When awe, or gratitude, or sorrow, or joy have such a hold on us that only the Holy Spirit can carry our prayers — our tears — to God’s ears with sighs too deep for words.
Perhaps this is too “touchy-feely” for you. I’m suggesting you take an opportunity to develop some courage and allow God to touch you. I implore you to feel with the depth God has enabled you to feel. Broaden your vision. Whether it’s the sound of a home run ball off a bat, or seeing the depth of the star-filled sky on a perfect Iowa evening, or the joyous sound of children at the fair, or the nearness of a dear friend, or the feel of a well-tuned, perfectly running engine, or the sweet taste of cool watermelon — experience the joy of the moment. As the psalmist suggests, “Taste, and see that the Lord is good.”
It took years to get this soft. Joe Batten says that we can be like leather: with age we can become softer. Don’t mistake softness for weakness: like a well-worn ball glove or pair of work boots, with that suppleness comes toughness. The broken-in glove is our first choice, because it feels right and let’s us do our best work. So it is with you, now you are able to best do God’s work.
I pray for you the very best that summer has to offer — blessings beyond our ability to describe, God’s presence in every moment of our lives — and in it all may its beauty move you to tears. Amen.