Tears of Joy
by Margaret Weis
For me, the word “joy” always brings to mind the same thing: tears.
I realize this might not be the logical thought process for most people, and some might even find it strange, but it’s the truth. The idea of joy immediately makes me think of tears. This is because I am what some might call a “crier.” I cry when I’m angry and sad. I cry when I’m frustrated or overwhelmed. But mostly, I cry when I’m joyful. I’m one of those people who cries at my niece’s chorus concerts, or when I found out my good friend had just given birth, or when watching two people make a commitment to one another in marriage. These times of joy bring tears to my eyes, and I am so thankful for that.
It’s like my heart is overflowing with emotion, and the only way for that joy to go is out! So those tears of joy are indicators of abundant love and happiness. They are my way of showing support and love for the people I care about. They help me feel connected to the joyful and happy experiences in life. I think, in some ways, those tears of joy are also reminders of the bittersweet that can come with success or achievement.
Most recently I have been watching videos of soldiers coming home and seeing their dogs for the first time. To be honest, I’m not sure why I do that! Having a spouse deployed is an emotional rollercoaster, and every time I watch one of those videos I long for the day that Susan is home, and our pups see her again. Watching these dogs squeal and jump, wag and give kisses brings such joy into my heart, and I can’t help but cry. There is such a pure love and joy in their responses to seeing the person they love after a long deployment. In those videos, the dogs and the soldiers exude pure joy and appreciation for each other.
I have moments of joy that happen almost every day. Afghanistan is 8 ½ hours ahead of Boston, so my day is essentially on an opposite schedule from my wife’s. We usually get to talk or email twice a day. I feel so blessed to have the ability to stay connected with her in this way. Every time my phone beeps with a message or email (yes, I got a smartphone specifically for this deployment!), my heart starts to beat a little faster. There is nothing like the feeling I get when she writes to me or calls. There is a solid joy in knowing that she is okay. But those times of joy are amplified because of the very true reality that she is not in a safe place right now. That’s the bittersweet I’m trying to explain.
But whether bittersweet or genuinely joyful, I am so thankful for those times in my life when I have felt wholly joyful and happy. There is a necessity in relishing in those times of joy. There is so much suffering in this world, but there is so much joy too. All too often we focus on the negative, or try to keep ourselves under control. My hope for myself, for all of us, is to live in the moment. My hope is to feel the joy, and to let those tears of joy flow. Like those dogs who are swept up in the excitement of reunion and jumping with joy, I hope to grasp the moment and be overcome with joyful emotion.
Margaret Weis is the Ministerial Intern at First Parish of Watertown, Unitarian Universalist. A former counselor, she lives north of Boston with her wife, Susan, and two rescue dogs.