A friend shares a prayer. A son holds a photo. A mother reaches for a batter-spattered recipe. I carry words.
Last night, saying goodbye to a friend, these words rise in my mind: "You never know what may cause tears. . . "
You never know what may cause tears. The sight of the Atlantic Ocean can do it, or a piece of music, or a face you've never seen before. A pair of somebody's old shoes can do it. Almost any movie made before the great sadness that came over the world after the Second World War, a horse cantering across a meadow, the high-school basketball team running out onto the gym floor at the start of a game. You can never be sure. But of this you can be sure. Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention.
They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go to next.
— Frederick Buechner
Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter's Dictionary
I first read this passage 20 years ago, on a roadtrip through the New Mexico desert, looking for my life. Years often pass in which I don't recall the words, don't think about tears or what pulls me. But the sentiment surfaces, without will, and I listen.
What do you carry? What rises to comfort when you need it most?