Crying in public isn't comfortable. I know because I've been doing it for years and shaming myself for it. I used to envy people who could "keep it together" no matter what. But recently I've begun to see tears in a new way.
Last night I taught a workshop. As one woman began to share with the group her eyes filled with tears. "I'm so sorry" she said, lowering her head with embarrassment. I knew how she felt. I decided to offer her my new take on tears.
"Your tears are precious," I began. "They're like jewels tumbling out of your heart. You honor yourself and us by sharing them." The woman raised her eyes tentatively, saw that her feelings were welcome and continued on with her story. As she did, others in the room wept gently along with her.
The Kleenex box moved freely around the circle throughout the evening and there was no more attempt to hide tears. By the time the workshop ended, precious heart jewels were scattered everywhere and the eyes that had shed them were shiny and bright.
I know how it feels to be shamed for feeling - I've shamed myself and even been shamed by a loved one. But what if we were truly free to share our feelings and shed our tears? What if, instead of putting us down for being emotional, a loved one gathered up our sacred heart jewels and held them gently to his chest? And what if, as he did, his own heart jewels began to flow with love?