Tears in My Ears

Refresh Worship Service

Trinity United Methodist Church / Beaumont, Texas

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

“Tears in My Ears”

Phoebe Hambright Dishman, Lay Speaker


Psalm 30:5b


         Weeping may endure for a night,

         But joy cometh in the morning.


Listen to Psalm 30, to the voice of the people,

three thousand years ago:


The people say: We have gone into a place of terrible trouble.

We do not say what the trouble was.

We do indicate it was overwhelming.

But here’s the good news: Trouble has been powerfully overcome.

All thanks and praise to the One who saved us.


Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

A thousand years later, Jesus said,

“You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”


To remember the grief makes keen the resurrection,

where new life begins, as sure as sunrise.

All praise the power of the Eternal One, who breathes new life.


To feel and understand these things requires experience, and maturity.


Observe a six-month old baby. She hasn’t been here long.

Her present moment is not very big.


Six months, an enchanting age. My granddaughter says,

‘You ask me who I am? I am Happy. Oh wait: I am Furious.’


Sadly, many folks get stuck right there, at six months old,

for the rest of their lives: ‘I am Happy. I am Furious.’

No. You are not these things.

You are a person. You are my darling Amelia.


Other persons make it to about the second grade.

Fewer still make it to adolescence and decide that’s as big as their present moment needs to be. Rarest of all, some keep developing.

It may not be fun to grow and keep growing then grow some more.

But it’s essential. I’m afraid our survival as a species depends on the will and courage of the rare to expand the present moment.


Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.


We gather here tonight as present moment practitioners of a sacred tradition called Christianity. For me, a better name might be the Way of the Wound. The Way of the Wound. This I got from Richard Rohr.

I think such a re-naming might bring us closer to the heart of Christ.

The heart of the Christ, I believe, is to extend a hand of blessing

to the woundedness of all who breathe.


Jesus said, “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” (John 16:20)


All who breathe will suffer. When suffering comes,

the rejoicing help the sorrowing.

The strong help the weak.

The wise help the confused.

And oh how quickly those roles can reverse.

We need to be poised and prepared.


And so we practice the proven disciplines.

Believing ‘the right things’ is not enough.


My teaching partner told me more than once

that we humans need to restore our conscience

to its proper place in our lives.

He said that conscience is the art

of feeling every single thing we feel at the same time,

surviving the shock of that,

and moving forward in a loving, constructive way.

This is the sacred work, the personal responsibility a person owes

for the privilege of being alive.


To work with such a person—what can I say?

He went on to name my particular part of the work.

Your particular part, he said to me, is to re-enchant the world.

To bring color, and light, and song. The world is hungry for these.


Thank you, partner. Like Jesus, you make it hard to settle for less

than a life of cosmic significance!


Weeping may endure for a night,

But joy cometh in the morning.


I am called Phoebe Ruth.

Phoebe is Greek for the reflected brilliance of the moon.

Ruth means mercy. Mercy, I believe,

comes from the time we spend on the dark side of the moon.

In the ice-cold shadow of suffering.


I saw in the paper there’s a healing art called singing bowls.

The vibrations of these large glass bowls can bring us back

from the dark side of the moon.

The thing is, someone who cares has to arrange the bowls,

and make them sing. Without the skill and energy of this person,

the bowls just sit there.


I get that. Being a roving prayer reporter, I had to go see.


I was not the only one. We were stacked in the room like proverbial cordwood. Which speaks to the need.


The ceiling was high, but floor space limited. My yoga mat had the dubious privilege of being right beside the bowl practitioner,

her largest bowl two feet from my left ear.


So we sank into silence, on mats and chairs and a sofa,

and the bowls began to sing, courtesy of mallets covered in leather,

run around their rims.


The music of the spheres, I am here to tell you, is very, very loud.


At first I felt annoyed, as in, I wish I had my $25 back.


Then I thought of the prophet Isaiah:

Morning by morning, You awaken my ear to listen.

You awaken my ear to listen, as one who learns. As one who learns. And I was obedient. I did not close my ears, nor did I turn aside.


If Isaiah can pay that kind of attention, so can I.


Then a thrumming started in my body, in my bones,

and I thought of the prophet Jeremiah,

how his bones burned with the word of the Lord,

nor did he run from the burning. So who am I to run?

Besides, I know how to be still. It’s a discipline I’ve worked at.

I can do this.


These lofty thoughts came and went.

My stomach began to growl for its supper.

I wondered if my car out back had been broken into yet.


All in all, I was grateful for whatever brought me here,

for space in my life to be stretched out on my back in a strange place, not knowing a soul, for one sacred hour, with nothing to do but listen.

To listen, perchance to heal.


The music went on. The musician’s name was Ann. Ann said in the article that brought me here that when she practices this healing art, she perceives the energy in each person in the room, and matches her music to that. Now here she was, very close to me, bending gracefully over her bowls.


I have no clue what faith tradition Ann springs from. But the Jewish tradition has a term: tikkun olam. Tikkun olam—repairing the world. For Ann, her repair kit is her bowls.

Pretty soon I went quite still in all my parts.

I felt no particular emotion.

Then came the tears. They leaked out of my eyes, ran down my face, made pools in my ears.


I just let it be.


No particular emotion, just the sound of the bowls, the silence of tears.

Tears spilling out of my ears, and down my shoulders, to the ground.


When the hour ended, I felt empty, and without words.

Perhaps that was the idea. A beautiful bowl, full of empty!

A present moment, expanded.


The post-session chatter began, about how wonderful it all was.

I wasn’t sure yet what I thought, so I said nothing.

I began preparing to ease inconspicuously toward the door.


Then a man, evidently a regular, spoke from his clear plastic pool float. With good cheer he said that when Ann played the bowls this night,

he saw more color than he ever had before.

This stopped me in my tracks. Metaphorically speaking,

I crept back from the dark edge of the campfire, into the light.


I myself had seen no colors. But I work with colors.



Ann replied to the man that she felt the need for color in this room,

on this particular night,

and she had worked with the bowls

to send out as much color as the bowls had in them. Then she turned and looked keenly at me, so silent and pale and listening.

She looked, and then she wrapped me in her arms.


She also told us we might be feeling the after-effects of our energy work for two or three days.


All I know is that keeping baby Amelia the next afternoon was calm and bright. It usually is. But today was a deeper kind of calm.

I didn’t need to be any particular thing for my granddaughter. Just be. And let her be what she will.


I decided we would spend our last half-hour on the front porch.

As soon as Amelia realized where we were headed,

she wriggled with delight.

Her present moment is expanding, and that’s a fact.



We sat a spell on the front porch,

deliciousness of baby in my lap,

watching the neighborhood:


Blue car.

Red robin.

Green dragonfly.

Evil housefly.

Mail truck.


Her downy little head swiveled this way and that.


From time to time she looked down at my hands around her middle.

New hands, examining the grandmother.


As if that wasn’t heaven enough,

she suddenly arched backward,

to see if I was still there.

When she saw that I was indeed still there,

she graced me with a huge upside down grin.


Amelia Rose.

Amelia means hard working.

Rose means beauty, charm, and joy.

At six months old, Amelia Rose is already that,

and poised to be so much more.


I sense a practitioner taking up her sacred work.


The deepest pains may linger through the night,

But joy greets the soul with the smile of morning.


Jesus said, “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”




Author: Phoebe Dishman

Phoebe H. Dishman was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother. An essayist and poet, she teaches adult Sunday school, compiles a monthly prayer calendar, edits the Big Thicket Association quarterly bulletin, and keeps a keen eye and ear open for birds.

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