There is a woman living in one of the temporary housing units where I minister who I have never seen cry, despite the extreme challenges she has faced that would bring others to their knees. It is easy for some to dismiss this woman as cold and uncaring, though I know that is not true.
Reflecting on her lack of tears, I am reminded of a conversation two years ago with the mother of a childhood friend who had died at the tender age of 62. As we embraced at her daughter’s wake, this loving mother did not shed a tear. She looked at me with deeply sad eyes and in what seemed both an apology and a plea for understanding, explained that due to a physical condition, she was no longer able to cry – outwardly - choking instead on the saltiness of her silent tears. I could only imagine how that compounded her deep suffering.
Both the client with whom I work and the mother of my childhood friend remind me that judging on outward appearance is as unfair as it is unwise. Bravado, stony-faces, aloofness, and airs of overconfidence – all may hide unattended suffering and silent cries for understanding.
As we approach the Season of Advent and the joy that this time holds for so many, may we be mindful of those who suffer, and cry, in silence.
Kathy Flynn, OP