Saturday, May 09, 2015

Food - Or Drink for thought

The Cup of Life - from Henri Nouwen's Bread for the Journey

When the mother of James and John asks Jesus to give her sons a special place in his Kingdom, Jesus responds, "Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?" (Matthew 20:22). "Can we drink the cup?" is the most challenging and radical question we can ask ourselves. The cup is the cup of life, full of sorrows and joys. Can we hold our cups and claim them as our own? Can we lift our cups to offer blessings to others, and can we drink our cups to the bottom as cups that bring us salvation?

Keeping this question alive in us is one of the most demanding spiritual exercises we can practice.


This morning's devotional reading got me to thinking... and writing. 
It got me asking questions about my life and the way I am choosing to live it.
Lots of questions.

What cups do I need to claim as my own? 
What challenges are mine to drink down to the dregs?
What sorrows do I still need to mourn?
Which joys are worthy of celebration?

There is a part of me that is learning to embrace the sorrows more deeply. To appreciate the difficulties, the breakdowns, the crack ups, the stretching, the scars, the shifting, and the shattering. I find myself asking - what am I meant to learn from this? What am I meant to be grateful for, even now, even in this midst of this moment of deep pain? How will this predicament serve as a lesson for me and for others? 

There is a part of me that is learning to experience the joys fully as they happen without expecting or hoping or praying that the joy last forever. I am reminded of the Gospel account of Peter's desire to build a house up on the mount of transfiguration. "Lord, this is such an awesome moment. Can't we just stay up here forever?" Nope, we can't. Enjoy this - and then let it go. 

Eat this meal with gratitude, Gail, and then move on to the next task at hand. Bask in the depth and power of this relationship and then release your grip on and expectations of this person. Teach this class, and then sit down and learn something new. No hoarding - not even good things. 

I consider the cup of life I have been given. 

The highest highs - graduating from high school, from college, getting married, having children, living in homes I have loved, traveling extensively, loving and being loved, teaching, learning, kissing, hugging, making sweet love, being embraced by a community of faith that welcomes me and my family completely just as we are. I have been profoundly blessed in this life.

The lowest lows - watching my father die, September 11th, the Sandy Hook shooting (which happened to be on my birthday - I will never forget that day), illness, job loss, depression, hospitalization, hearing stories of deep pain and suffering in other people's lives. 

We all have experienced joy in this life.
We all will again. 
(That is my prayer anyway...)
We all have experienced sorrow in this life. 
We all will again. 
(I am praying against this...)

The question Henri Nouwen asks here raises so many more within me. 

Will I lift the cup that is mine to drink, whether that cup contains blessings or sorrows? 
Will I lift it in gratitude and with grace? Or will I lift it with complaints and bitterness?

Will I lift it with hope, with joy? 
Will I lift it equally high with my tears streaming and my heart cracking open? 
Will I drink it to the bottom no matter what is in it? 
Will I walk with and bless others as they drink their cups of both joy and sorrow? 
Will I turn away and try to avoid the sorrowful times?

This morning's Henri Nouwen devotional has given me much drink for thought.
Thanks be to God. 

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