William Edelen: What Makes You Cry? — Part 2

The Contrary Minister

A year ago last March I asked you this question, “What makes you cry?” It is a question that looks into your heart and soul… where the answer rests. I aimed my answer at cruelty to animals and I spent the column with multiple examples from our society. But oh my, there is so much more to be said… about the emotions that produce tears.

My eyes can flood with tears from Poetry… Music… Affection… Love… Kindness… Compassion… Empathy… Bravery… Courage. BEAUTY… the Grand Teton mountains at dawn, from Jenny Lake where I have stood many times…

When I want to soar into the sacred realms of the divine I listen to the breathtaking Goddess, Jessye Norman, singing Gounod’s “Sanctus” and my eyes are wet with tears, every time.

When I listen to the genius of Carlos Jobim’s words of Poetry and music in “Meditations” the emotions of tears surge through my heart and mind.


Wherever love is present, whether from a child or an adult, the deep emotional responses can quickly and easily produce tears from the soul and heart. That brilliant and giant Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote these words, “It is impossible to find truth… without being in love, for LOVE and TRUTH is the ONLY road that leads the soul out of the inner jungle.”

I can cry while experiencing the Springtime beauty and miracle of this month of March. I now have my calendar of the soul that is far more accurate than the printed one on my desk. It is usually in March that nature says the new year is here, with bursting buds and warm earth and fresh new leaves dancing and quaking on bare winter branches.

I am not alone in calling March the beginning of my New Year. The ancient Jews, Egyptians and Greeks all had the beginning of the New Year in March. My brothers and sisters of the Sioux (Lakota) and Cheyenne knew this naturally living so close to the rhythms of the natural world. They called this moon of March “the Moon of the New Grass.” New Life.

How can I describe, in words, and moist eyes, what I feel in the Desert rain? The fragrant odors, the rich aroma of an earth moist and alive. Rolling sounds of thunder waking the earth from its restful slumber, as they say in the Taos Pueblo, followed by dazzling rainbows receiving a standing ovation from the little red flames on the tips of the ocotillos. And the Candle of the Lord, the elegant creamy white blossoms shooting up high on their great spike of the Yucca.

The beauty of it all overwhelms my emotions and my eyes respond to my heart and soul, and are filled with fresh tears… BEAUTY, whether of nature… music… or the intricately crafted words of poetry and language, ALWAYS can bring tears to my eyes and make me cry.


Here, where we live, in the eternal desert, with its great silence and solitude, and the great timeless beauty, remind us of the mystery and miracle of it all.

Long after our artificial cities have crumbled… the desert, with its timeless BEAUTY will call once again to those who have survived.

When confused and fragmented by the chaos of “civilization,” perhaps it is in the desert that in silence and solitude, we find… our spiritual oasis.

One Comment

Such a beautiful piece from William Edelen. Yes, the high desert in all it seasons is truly a place of healing and emotional blossoming.