The Gift of Tears

Dear Inner Circle,

To one side of my office is a small storage room. It contains mostly files and records, but a small space has been cleared out and carefully prepared. It is home to a growing collection of urns that contain the as-yet unclaimed ashes of people who have passed away. All were well known and loved here, but for some we have no idea where to begin looking for family and others are just waiting for the right moment when we can conduct a short memorial service for them. Sadly at this time, the collection is growing. About once a week I find myself talking to them, introducing any new urns to the rest of the group. This growing community of the unclaimed has a hold on my heart in ways that are hard to describe.

Our usual mode of operation isn’t to see others as “they are”, rather we tend to see the others and the world as “we are”. Being lost in a culture of self-improvement, it is easy to assume that others would benefit from the accumulated wisdom of our discontented strivings for impossible goals and standards. Most of our modes of being in this world involve some kind of impulse to fix or control. There are other modes that are accessible but are far less popular despite being gentler and more effective.

To someone in a world full of pain and suffering we can offer the gift of tears. Tears can cleanse our eyes and provide a renewed clarity of vision to help us truly see the person before us and to see that we cannot fix anyone. This is a liberation as it leaves us finally free to feel, to weep, and to grieve, which releases a weight from our souls. We know that if the tears have done their work then a burden is released. We are free from hatred, guilt and the need to blame others and the world. We are free to love, walk and work with others to create a better future.

On a bad day when I am with my gathering of urn companions, I can shake my fist at the sky, however, at other gentler moments, I simply place my hands on them and pray for a world where every heart can find a resting place.

Thanks for being a tower of weakness with us, our precious Inner Circle,


Jon Owen

Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

PS. This week is Homelessness Week, and I invite you to join me online tonight for our very special ‘Voices from the Streets’ live panel discussion and Q&A from 7pm-7.45pm . Tune in as I talk to three of our visitors, Lani, Josh and Leon about their lived experience of homelessness, challenges during the pandemic, and the impact that the Wayside community has had in their lives. Click here to RSVP.

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One Response

  1. Can you help me? How do I find someone who was living rough in Sydney last time we heard from him – which was over 15 years ago. His dad has accepted the possibility that he has succumbed to his addictions – i would like to know for sure.

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