You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You keep track of my sorrows. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8
My Aunt Mary once pointed out this verse from the book of Psalms to me and I’ve never forgotten it. The idea that there is a lasting acknowledgment somehow of our grief or that somewhere a permanent account of our sorrow has been written is very comforting.
The Psalmist describes that so beautifully with the image of our tears being collected in a bottle for safekeeping and our sadness being written down in some giant book. Were we to keep detailed track of all the sadness we experience in a lifetime we might become so weighed down with its burden we would have no time to appreciate and savor the many good things life also brings our way.
The idea that our sorrow has been recognized and is remembered makes it possible for us to put the lid on the bottle of our tears perhaps in the beginning for only a short while, and eventually for longer periods of time.
Children’s author Arnold Lobel has written a heartwarming story about tear collection called Tear Water Tea in his book Owl At Home. When the owl in the story remembers the sad things in life he cries. He collects the tears he cries in a kettle. He heats his tear water on the stove, makes tea with it, drinks the tea, and is comforted.
We may not make tear water tea but we can talk about our sorrow with those who understand or share it. We can journal about our sorrow or remember it with photographs, sketches, music, or in the flowers we plant. Sometimes I look through all the cards I received after my mother died and I find it comforting.
We cry millions of tears in a lifetime. We may not remember every one, but that doesn’t mean they lose their significance or importance. They can be noted. They count.