More Uses for Tears

By the Rev. Tracy Howe

On occasion, I will take a song that I have written and I will change it slightly for a specific use. Such was the case last year when the US reached a COVID 19 death toll of 100,000 people and I was asked to play for a national service put together by Sojourners. I used a song I had written about a certain kind of mourning and journey and just added one line, “Take these tears that are falling, let them testify to love.” I played the song after Bishop Michael Curry prayed.

Now, nearly a year later, we are at 575,000 COVID deaths in this country at the time I write this. We have also lived through a year of protests and uprisings in the wake of State sanctioned murders of Black people at the hands of police, and more in the last two weeks following the trial of officer Derek Chauvin who was convicted on three counts for the murder of George Floyd. We have witnessed a violent insurrection in our nation’s capitol by white supremacist militia groups and increasing hate crimes against people of Asian descent while medical access is taken from trans people and voting rights are being restricted across the country. I cannot come close to naming everything. But just as there is a testimony of love in the tears, there is a tremendous testimony of healing in our persevering presence with one another, literally at bedsides, as well as continuing in building a just world for all.

As a worship leader and musician, I write my prayers into the music and the liturgy. Though there is much to cry over and cry out for, what else might our tears be good for? From this place, I wrote this prayer.

God the psalmist wrote of a bed stained with tears from crying all night.

I have been crying for what seems a lifetime.

Waiting for change.

Waiting for healing.

Waiting for the reasons for crying to cease.

My bed overflowed and to keep from drowning I had to stand.

I’ve had to find more uses for my tears.

I ask you God to take them.

Make this a healing storm.

Let our cries be a monsoon bringing life to the parched desert.

Let the salt crystals of our tears be antiseptic that heals.

Us and our children and our children’s children.

Let the tears that flow break the ground.

For new beds of wildflowers

Of healthy food.

Of hardwood trees.

Let these tears cleanse me from everything I thought I needed

And did not.

The stories rooted in violence and greed.

Let these tears be an abundant offering where I have felt I have had nothing to give.

And have been laboring and giving

And praying

All along.


Take My Hand

Take my hand, touch my heart

take these dry bones, make them walk

to the valley of promise and peace//

Take my story, make it a painting

Take my sister, help her forgive me

set in motion with a word, something redeeming and good//

And it will be holy

Take my hand, touch my heart

Take these tears that are falling

Let them testify to love

These tears are holy

Written by Tracy Howe

©2008, The Restoration Project

***Summer 2020 Re-write

Rev. Tracy Howe is a songwriter, producer, activist and minister. Her songs have been used by faith communities and in movement work globally. In the wake of the violence in #Charlottesville, where she lived and organized for six years, Tracy released the album, “Bring Me Some Peace,” music laced with pain and hope for wholeness and healing. “Things That Grow” is Tracy’s most recent full-length album, born out of the movement work of the last several years. In 2019 Tracy and her family moved to Tohono O’odham land and what is now called Tucson, AZ. In quarantine, she released her latest single, “Build the World,” and continues to organize with her colleagues remotely by Zoom. She is founder of Restoration Village Arts, a learning and action network of artist/activists and ministers building a just a beautiful world, and is Minister for Congregational and Community Engagement at the National Setting of the United Church of Christ. Having led and directed worship and arts for a number of national and international gatherings, she is honored to step into the role as General Synod Worship Director.

@TracyHoweMusic (fb/IG/twitter)


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