Can You Drink the Cup?

by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Paperback, 1996




"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.… (more)


Ave Maria Pr (1996), Edition: New Ed, 111 pages

Similar in this library

Other editions


½ (48 ratings; 3.7)

User reviews

LibraryThing member ostrom
Somehow this manages to be both a comforting and challenging book at once.
LibraryThing member palaverofbirds
A nice if somewhat maudlin book based on a very poorly chosen, clumsy metaphor.
LibraryThing member gdill
Decent book and somewhat thought-provoking. But, at times very slow. Glossed over a dozen pages. However, this book really hammers home the point of knowing the cup from which we drink from, namely living the life of Christ. Nouwen also draws a lot of insight from his experiences at the Daybreak
Show More
community for which he served amongst the disabled.

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)
Show Less
LibraryThing member SueinCyprus
Henri Nouwen looks at the question Jesus asked his friends shortly before his death: 'Can you drink the cup?'

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,
Show More
and somewhat thought-provoking, but I didn't find it particularly inspiring or memorable. Still, I shall probably return to it in future.
Show Less
Page: 0.1282 seconds