Today’s post is different from my normal posts. I wrote the first draft of this four or five years ago. I don’t even remember what spurred me on to write it. In light of our collective grief over the COVID-19 pandemic and some personal losses within my own circle, I wanted to offer these words as a bench to rest on as you walk through grief. You are not alone. Your pain is not wasted.
Taking my time, I put a hand to the door, and it slowly swung open on its hinges. It was some sort of garden shed, if heaven indeed called them that. I had noticed many of them sitting trim and confident on the edge of gardens and lawns, little islands amid acres of emerald green grass and shimmering sunlight.
My eyes were immediately dazzled by dancing colors reflecting off the four walls, not an uncommon experience here on the New Earth. Once my eyes had refocused, I saw the source was a reverberating wall of color, rows and rows of glass bottles oscillating with a liquid that seemed more alive than inanimate. Ruby red decanters, weighty green vessels, delicate blue bottles, crystal clear jugs. Bottle after bottle filled my senses.
I turned to Him (incredible to be with Him) and he read the question in my eyes before my lips had parted.
“They’re the tears of the saints,” He whispered.
“I thought…” I began, but again, He knew.
“Not new tears that fell here in heaven, but tears from the ages on earth. From all my children throughout the millennia.”
A line from the book of Psalms filtered through my mind to my heart, like the first wafting scent of coffee from mornings long ago on earth, and I felt a tingling at yet another revelation behind words I had treasured throughout my life.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each in your book.Psalm 56:8
Following behind this verse came another story, this one from the book of Luke about a woman. This woman, who had borne so much pain and sorrow, desired to bless the Lord. And what better way than with her tears? A lifetime of precious tears would be valued by Jesus because He cared for her. The evidence of that was before my eyes.
He walked along the shelves, fingering each bottle lovingly, knowing from which precious soul they originated.
“Nathaniel, Margaret, Susan, Eli, Cheng, Judith, Rosa, Mikael…”
I absorbed the unspoken stories behind the names, as He selected one of the clear jugs and re-entered the garden.
He made his way over to a bed of roses of some indescribable color and tenderly emptied the jug, dancing liquid trailing down the stems and dripping off leaves.
The rosebush rose to meet the liquid, rejoicing at the ancient, precious tears. The leaves glowed a deeper green, the petals becoming more vibrant before my eyes. New buds appeared along the stems within moments.
“Not one tear from my children goes to waste. Not one. Here, they give life and nourishment. They bring growth. They have a purpose.”
I gazed at the flowers, while deep, holy things took root in my soul. I felt His hand in mine once more.
“Let me show you your tree.”
We walked a few dozen yards, or maybe it was several miles. It was hard to measure distance here. In the corner of another garden (He had a thing for gardens) was a tree. My tree. He didn’t have to tell me it was mine. My spirit heard Him and knew. Oh, how I’ve longed to commune like this!
I sank to my knees in front of the trunk that hummed with life. His hand came to my shoulder.
“Every tear. Every tear of yours has nourished this tree. When your uncle died, when you fought with your parents, when you served with no evidence of harvest, when you failed the test, when you couldn’t understand why your sister got sick or why you couldn’t have children for so long. When your heart was broken. When your children rebelled. When your husband left. Every shred of hurt. Every drop of pain. I stored it. And the tears became something good.”
The branches stretched far above my head, and far beyond my comprehension. Providing beauty, though there was no shortage of beauty in this place. Sheltering the doves and sparrows, though there were plenty of trees to choose from.
Still it grew and existed and was lovely in its own corner.
Still on my knees, I worshipped Him. This was my God. My Father.
I rose again, his hand cupping my face, then gripping my hand again, smiling like only a carpenter from Nazareth can smile.
“Come. We have much more to see.”