When I have a sore throat, I gargle with salt water. I usually feel immediate relief, at least for a little while. As a little girl, my mother bathed my cuts in salt water before applying ointment and bandaids. “Yes, it stings a little,” she would say, “but it washes away the dirt, and the salt absorbs the infection.” Salt water does a lot of healing.
Too often little boys are told not to cry. “Don’t make a fuss. You’re okay. You’re too big to cry.” Both women and men often apologize for crying. “I’m sorry,” we’ll say, as we wipe away our tears, trying to hide our embarrassment.
Many years ago, I attended a grief workshop. A medical doctor told us that tears are absolutely necessary for good health. When we experience extreme stress, our bodies produce a particular toxin (poison). The only way to rid ourselves of this toxin is through tears. When people refuse to cry, the toxin often attacks us. That’s why people often develop cancer or other illnesses after a traumatic experience.
The salt water of our tears brings healing both physical and emotional. Women sometimes talk about needing to have a good cry. Films that move us to tears are good for us. Sometimes, we think we shouldn’t cry at funerals. We want to be strong. I believe that strength comes with our tears. It takes courage and strength to feel the love and the pain that comes when a loved one dies. Tears are part of God’s gift of creation, given I’m sure for their healing qualities. The shortest verse in the Bible is just two words. “Jesus wept.” I encourage you to remember that salt water does a lot of healing, whether it comes from a mighty ocean or a face streaked with tears.
“Jesus wept. Then they said, “See how he loved him!” John 11:34-36