I am always tempted, once I place Return of the King back on the shelf, to immediately pull out The Fellowship of the Ring and begin again, "When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End..." Soon enough, I'm sure I will :)
But currently, I am pleasantly working my way through George MacDonald's Lilith, which is just as enchanting and gripping as the Lord of the Rings, but in a wholly different way.
"Do you mean, sir, I could have done something for the Little Ones by staying with them?"
"Could you teach them anything by leaving them?"
"No; but how could I teach them? I did not know how to begin. Besides, they were far ahead of me!"
"That is true. But you were not a rod to measure them with! Certainly, if they knew what you know, not to say what you might have known, they would be ahead of you--out of sight ahead! but you saw they were not growing--or growing so slowly that they had not yet developed the idea of growing! they were even afraid of growing!--You had never seen children remain children!"
"But surely I had no power to make them grow!"
"You might have removed some of the hindrances to their growing!"
"What are they? I do not know them. I did think perhaps it was the want of water!"
"Of course it is! they have none to cry with!"
"I would gladly have kept them from requiring any for that purpose!"
"No doubt you would--the aim of all stupid philanthropists! Why, Mr. Vane, but for the weeping in it, your world would never have become worth saving!"
An interesting idea. Our world (the world of Mr. Vane) is only worth saving because of the weeping. It is not only suffering, of course, that brings on tears. Great Joy overflows in water courses too. But the notion of growing only through tears--through the life-giving torrent of Living Water--isn't one that surfaces much lately. Though all living things need water to grow.
Viv and I were talking about that a week or so ago--the notion of suffering. She rightly noted that not many people see any value in it. What's the point? When we have so many ways of averting suffering, why bother with it? She also said that her faith has helped her deal with the sorrow in her life--if there is a purpose, if there can be good in it, one can fight through and see the light on the other side.
In this fallen world of ours, I know there will be no lack of tears. But I am with MacDonald, and I believe tears--of any sort--make us grow. I cannot say if it was always that way--maybe God created us only for tears of joy--and suffering and sorrow as causes entered only after our fall. Or, perhaps the Gift of Tears is one of the many graces God has given us to endure the brokenness of this life.
Will we still cry for joy in heaven? Or will we find we have a new way to share the churning emotions in our body, and crying will have been only a thing of this world?
Personally, I'm inclined to believe the first. We have always had tears. And they will always help us grow, if we can accept the Grace therein.