I’ve always wondered how a box of Kleenex works.  How does one tissue stick to the next and yet is able to let go when it gets outside the box?  I’m guessing it’s based on how they are folded in the box, but I’m not discounting the possibility of some kind of engineering marvel.

Did you know that Kleenex was first used in World War One, as a filter for gas masks?  It wasn’t until the 1930’s that it became what it is today, a disposable handkerchief.  It was marketed under the slogan, “don’t carry a cold in your pocket”.

Today we use them for more than blowing our noses.  They can wrap up a cut on our finger, cushion a breakable treasure, clean up a mess, or fill out the end of a shoe that is just a little too big for our feet.   

They can also dry tears.

When I meet with someone I always have a box of Kleenex close at hand.  Usually it goes unused, but then again, you never know when tears that are close to the surface can overflow.  To be able to hand someone a box of Kleenex when they are sad lets them know that you notice their tears, and their sadness, and that you acknowledge them.  It can be a gesture of care and compassion. It is a way of gently recognizing a fragile moment and being comfortable in that moment. Even the act of reaching across the table holding the box is a way of bridging a distance.

In the book of Revelations, we are given a vision of a world beyond this one.  A world it says, where God will “wipe away every tear from our eyes.”  Does that mean there is Kleenex in heaven? I’m guessing not, but it does remind us that there is a sacredness in both expressing tears, and in drying each other tears.  Tears are not weakness, it fact they can be a sign of strength.  It takes strength and courage to show our vulnerable side.  Tears are an expression of our humanity, and our need to be understood and gently cared for.    

Simply put, we cry. And because we cry, we will always need Kleenex, but even more so, we need people to be a companion to us in our sad times, acknowledging that our tears are valuable.  When someone reaches across the table with a box of Kleenex they are giving us more than tissues, they are saying, “I see you, I acknowledge you and I am here for you.”