A Place Where They Cried

Tomorrow Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opens. I happen to have the privilege of living less than 5 miles from the new museum. Earlier this week I was walking the art trail talking to God about some things in my life that aren’t going as planned. At the end of the trail is an instillation by Pat Musick and Jerry Carr entitled “A Place Where They Cried”.

It commemorates the hardships endured by the American Indians forced to migrate across northern Arkansas to present day Oklahoma.

The sculpture suggests human figures traversing the stream, a metaphoric evocation of American Indians on the Trail of Tears.

While addressing historical events and human tragedy, the artists’ stone figures, flanking the gently flowing stream, can also be viewed as witness to endurance and survival.

As I stood beside the stream in the midst of these standing stones I couldn’t help but think about other stones of remembrance. Of when Samuel and the children of Israel gathered together to bring a sacrifice of repentance to God when suddenly they found themselves surrounded by the Philistine army. The people were terrified and begged Samuel “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that He may rescue us.” And God was faithful. Without the Israelites having to raise a hand God confused the Philistines and defeated them.

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far has the Lord helped us.’” 1 Sam. 7:12

A stone of remembrance in a place where they cried.

Standing here I wondered about those Indian mothers. Did they put on a brave face for their children? Did they cry into the hard ground after everyone had fallen asleep? Did they ever just want to give up? Quit? Lie down and die?

And what of the women who followed them? The pioneer women, living in a one room cabin, trying to fight off the winter’s icy blast. Did they rock sick, hungry babies with tears on their cheeks? Did they rise early to kneel and pray begging God for comfort?

Or the woman living in the farm house watching her only son go off to war? Did she water his grave with her weeping? Hands clinging to the stone engraved with her only son’s name?

Stones of remembrance in a place where they cried.

My own tears streamed down my face and fell into the soil at my feet. Tears of sorrow. Tears of frustration. Tears of questioning. Just as countless women before me, my overwhelmed heart rose to the surface and hot salty tears erupted.

And then I remembered…  that He remembers.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.” Psalm 56:8

The Master Artist erects His own stone of remembrance in the place where we cry. He does not ignore our tears. He is not uncomfortable with our tears. He is not irritated by our tears. He collects our tears.

He sees, He listens, He cares and He collects as He waits for the day when He will wipe away all of our tears.

Rev 21: 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death ; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” 5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7 “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. 8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” 9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 

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