Crying and the Life of the World to Come

 

Another year has passed, and with that comes the catharsis of committing yet another year to the realm of history. This catharsis would be particularly so if 2013 has been a year where causes for deep regret outweigh those for joyous celebration.
For those whose experience of 2013 was a veil of tears, there is a hope that 2014 not be a repeat of the travails of the year just past. The question to be asked is whether there is a legitimate basis for this hope beyond mere optimism. Furthermore, there is the question on whether the tears of yesteryear would be nothing more than a meaningless footnote with no bearing on the year to come.
A partial response was given in a previous post on the redemption of regret, but a more authoritative voice on this comes from the 8th century mystic St. Isaac the Syrian, for whom the subject of tears was an important part of the renewal of the Christian. Indeed, the Psalms speak of tears as the meeting point between heaven and earth (Psalm 34:18), and even the beginning of a time of the renewal of the creation (Psalm 126:6-7). Nowhere is this more vividly captured than in a passage where Isaac writes
The fruits of the inner man begin only with the shedding of tears. When you reach the place of tears, then know that your spirit has come out from the prison of this world and has set its foot upon the path that leads to the new age. Your spirit begins at this moment to breathe the wonderful air which is there, and it starts to shed tears. The moment for the birth of the spiritual child is now at hand…
Whether 2014 actually is the year where such renewal becomes a reality is yet to be seen, but we can find comfort in the reasonable hope that with the tears of 2013, we sow the real seeds for renewal in this life, and indeed herald the “life of the world to come”. 
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