Copyright © 2011 by Chris R. Glaser. All rights reserved.
Mostly we are willing to look back at our lives and say: “I am grateful for the good things that brought me to this place.” But when we lift our cup of life, we must dare to say: “I am grateful for all that has happened to me and led me to this moment.”
Henri Nouwen wrote these words the final year of his life in a book entitled, Can You Drink the Cup? Henri wrote of holding, lifting, and drinking the cup of life. We hold the cup in contemplation, lift the cup as a toast or a blessing for others, and drain the cup in thankfulness for both sorrows and joys.
“All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose,” the apostle Paul wrote, suggesting that a context of meaning gives one the opportunity to “be grateful in all circumstances.” Jesus said it isn’t what goes into a person but what comes out of a person’s heart that is spiritually vital, implying that it is not who we are or what happens to us that “defiles” us, but how we respond.
In his book Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore describes spirituality as soul-shaping: all that we experience, good and bad, shapes the soul we are becoming. And in Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers, Thich Nhat Hanh concludes, “Faith is the outcome of your life.”
These spiritual insights were embodied for me on a visit to St. Louis years ago. A woman I had not seen in decades surprised me wearing a clerical collar. “What prompted you to enter the ministry?” I asked, only to discover it was two horrific events—one of being beaten up at her front door by three men, another of an attempted rape by an intruder in her home. She had the presence of mind to say to the latter, “Jesus is watching us,” and it so disturbed him, he ran out. Yet in these two events, she heard a call to ministry!
That same visit I stayed with a couple whose previously closeted son had returned home just days before he died of AIDS. The terrible surprise transformed these conservative, Midwestern, Presbyterian Republicans into AIDS and gay rights activists!
As Nouwen astutely observed, “When we are crushed like grapes, we cannot think of the wine we will become.”
Sunday, November 27, 11 a.m., Georgia Mountains Unitarian Universalist Church in Dahlonega, GA. Chris will speak on “Our Lives as Sacred Texts.”
Thursday, December 1. World AIDS Day resource written by Chris in Preaching God’s Transforming Justice: A Lectionary Commentary, Year B, pp 6-11.