‘All is spent’

Nature is “a spendthrift economy; though nothing is lost, all is spent.”
— Annie Dillard, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”

The other day I was sitting across from a woman, a patient’s wife, and I was so close I could see a tear dribble out of her eye and sit on her lower eyelid.

Then came another. The tears just sat there for what seemed an eternity, then they fell, going who knows where.

I’ve been obsessed about these tears since. What happened to them? So my imagination started working.

I imagined they fell to the ground, one by one. I imagined they got into the floor of the patient’s room, then worked their way into the earth. From the earth they made their way into the water stream and flowed to a creek, then to the nearby Chattahoochee River.

By now they are making their way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The woman’s tears serve her and they serve the earth. They cleanse her and they cleanse the earth. Tears are a gift of washing and renewal and replenishing.

Today I am grateful for her tears, and mine, and yours.

Nothing is wasted, or lost. Amen.


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