Day 04 – Can You Drink the Cup? – Henri Nouwen


Day 04

Can You Drink the Cup?

Henri Nouwen

Holding the cup of life means looking critically at what we are living. This requires great courage, because when we start looking, we might be terrified by what we see. Questions may arise that we don’t know how to answer. Doubts may come up about things we thought we were sure about. Fear may emerge from unexpected places. We are tempted to say: “Let’s just live life. All this thinking about it only makes things harder.” Still, we intuitively know that without looking at life critically we lose our vision and our direction. When we drink the cup without holdi ng it first, we may simply get drunk and wander around aimlessly.

Holding the cup of life is a hard discipline. We are thirsty people who like to start drinking at once. But we need to restrain our impulse to drink, put both of our hands around the cup, and ask ourselves, “What am I given to drink? What is in my cup? Is it safe to drink? Is it good for me? Will it bring me health?”

Just as there are countless varieties of wine, there are countless varieties of lives. No two lives are the same. We often compare our lives with those of others, trying to decide whether we are better or worse off, but such comparisons do not help us much. We have to live our life, not someone else’s. We have to hold our own cup. We have to dare to say: “This is my life, the life that is given to me, and it is this life that I have to live, as well as I can. My life is unique. Nobody else will ever live it. I have my own history, my own family, my own body, my own character, my own friends, my own way of thinking, speaking, and acting–yes, I have my own life to live. No one else has the same challenge.

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