There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief and of unspeakable love (Washington Irving)
One of the things I love about British cathedrals, is their openness for change, for art, for the way they are used. Some years ago I visited Durham cathedral several years in a row (during my Lindisfarne period), and I was amazed of how they used the old and the new art in the cathedral to communicate. In many ways we tend to look at Nidaros cathedral too much as a museum. New music is okay, dance is okay, but when, a few years ago, the cathedral had an art exhibition with paintings by Håkon Gullvåg, the discussions were quite busy.
How wonderful then to walk into Chichester cathedral, the cathedral which looks so much alike Nidaris cathedral when we see the outside of it, but which turned out to be quite different inside, to meet an exhibition by the artist and ceramicist Deborah Tompsett - A Thousand Tear Bottles.
Literally you can find a thousand bottles in the cathedral, 100 by the famous Chichetser Relief dating from the 12th century, 300 in the chapel of Saint Mary Magdalene, and some 600 by the Cahedral´s Shrine. All these places you could find sheets of paper with information about the bottles and reference to tears in the Bible.
I took one of the sheets of paper with me home:
Tears can be a gift, therefore, a sign of healing and resurrection - where even at our most forlorn the flow the tears can bring a changing tide of strength and newness. Weeping is after all the opposite of indifference; it is a sign of compassion, of deep connectedness to others, a sign of love. This love is what makes our tears an expression of our deepest sorrows - and also the means by which we might heal from them: Psalm 126.1 "May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy."
You can read more about the tear bottles here.