"Can you drink the cup?" Jesus asked this question of his friends James and John (Matthew 20:20-23). It is this question, explains our spiritual guide, Henri Nouwen, that "has the power to crack open the hardened heart and lay bare the tendons of the spiritual life." Nouwen uses the cup as a metaphor to articulate the basic postures of the spiritual life: holding, lifting and drinking. The cup is a powerful image in our human experience. We use cups in our celebrations of a variety of events. Nouwen reminds us that we also use the cup as a symbolic vessel "for sorrow, joy, blessings, salvation." Drinking our cup to the bottom is seen as the expression of the full freedom of the sons and daughters of God, Nouwen writes. His goal is to make the question Jesus posed to James and John pierce our hearts so that a personal answer can emerge from it.
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Chapter 7: "Drinking" was by far my favorite chapter. I liked how Nouwen put into perspective how most drinking engagements are an illustration of trust, vulnerability, and intimacy shared between two or more people. He correlates that to life, we either drink the cup that we have been handed without fear, but with trust and confidence, or we handle it with much fear and trepidation. We share what we've been blessed with to others and walk through life both the good and bad with others. Drinking the cup of both joy and sorrow.
My favorite quote from the book:
"Salvation is not only a goal for the afterlife. Salvation is a reality of every day that we can taste here and now." (pg. 100)
In a short book, he examines the images of holding a cup, lifting it, and then finally drinking, and uses them as a metaphor for the Christian life.
Well-written, as expected by this author,