if your soul is to be saved.

Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go to next. -Frederick Buechner

On Sunday morning, as Atticus snacked on goldfish in the pew next to me, he leaned over and gave me a spontaneous hug. He’s been hugging people with his head for a while but recently learned to add the arms. Now he hugs his friends at school in the morning and at pick-up, and it’s basically the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. (The cutest thing you’ve ever heard is when he tries to say the word octopus, which sounds like op-ah-tee. Hee hee hee.)

I hugged him back, and he did it again and again, this boy of mine. His independent nature is tempered by a sweetness and a happiness that settles him. We hugged and then he kissed me, and I thought about how far we have come, the two of us. I breathed the scent of his hair and the smell of goldfish crackers, and tears filled my eyes.

I have cried a bit more than usual in the past week, dismayed to see my beloved NC the butt of national jokes. Not to mention my own sadness about the vote and its repercussions on my friends and students. It didn’t surprise me when tears stung my eyes as Atticus put his sweet head next to mine. It didn’t surprise me when I cried later in the service, as a friend was singing and the person two pews ahead of me couldn’t stop wiping his own eyes. Throughout many conversations in the past week, the tears have threatened to spill over.

I think Buechner is right about tears being a gift. The tears of the past week have shown me how parenting has softened my heart, and yesterday’s tears were part of Atticus’s Mother’s Day gift to me. Love is always the means by which we save our souls, love that spurs us to action. And Atticus has taught me what that looks like.

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