Beauty, to the Japanese of old, held together the ephemeral with the sacred. Cherry blossoms are most beautiful as they fall, and that experience of appreciation lead the Japanese to consider their mortality. Hakanai bi (ephemeral beauty) denotes sadness, and yet in the awareness of the pathos of life, the Japanese found profound beauty.
For the Japanese, the sense of beauty is deeply tragic, tied to the inevitability of death.
Jesus’ tears were also ephemeral and beautiful. His tears remain with us as an enduring reminder of the Savior who weeps. Rather than to despair, though, Jesus’ tears lead the way to the greatest hope of the resurrection. Rather than suicide, Jesus’ tears lead to abundant life.
Everyone feels grief
when cherry blossoms scatter.
Might they then be tears –
those drops of moisture falling
in the gentle rains of spring?
~Otomo no Juronushi (late 9th century)
Thoughts still linger –
but will those who have parted
return once again?
Evening is deep in the hills
where cherry blossoms fall.
Again today I will see patients in my clinic who are struggling with depression, who are contemplating whether living another day is worth the pain and effort. Most describe their feelings completely dry-eyed, unwilling to let their emotions flow from inside and flood their outsides. Others sit soaking in tears of hopelessness and despair.
Their weeping moves and reassures me — it is a raw and authentic spilling over when the internal dam is breaking. It is so human, yet we know tears contain the divine.
When I read that Jesus weeps as He witnesses the tears of grief of His dear friends, I am comforted. He understands and feels what we feel, His tears just as plentiful and salty, His overwhelming feelings of love brimming so full they must be let go and cannot be held back.
Jesus who wept with us became a promise of ultimate joy.
There is beauty in this, His rain of tears, the spilling of the divine onto our mortal soil.
A fallen blossom
Returning to the bough, I thought –
But no, a butterfly.
~Arakida Moritake (1473-1549)