Day 07 – Can You Drink the Cup? – Henri Nouwen

Day 07

Can You Drink the Cup?

Henri Nouwen

There is Tracy, completely paralyzed, but with a bright mind, always struggling to find ways to express her feelings and thoughts. There is Susanne, not only mentally disabled but also regularly battered by inner voices that she cannot control. There is Loretta, whose disability causes her to feel unwanted by family and friends and whose search for affection and affirmation throws her into moments of deep despair and depression. There are David, Francis, Patrick, Janice, Carol, Gordie, George, Patsy … each of them with a cup full of sorrow.

Surrounding them are men and women of different ages, from different countries and religions, trying to assist these wounded people. But they soon discover that those they care for reveal to them their own less visible but no less real sorrows: sorrows about broken families, sexual unfulfillment, spiritual alienation, career doubts, and most of all, confusing relationships. The more they look at their own often wounded pasts and confront their uncertain futures, the more they see how much sorrow there is in their lives.

And for me things are not very different. After ten years of living with people with mental disabilities and their assistants, I have become deeply aware of my own sorrow-filled heart. There was a time when I said: “Next year I will finally have it together,” or “When I grow more mature these moments of inner darkness will go,” or “Age will diminish my emotional needs.” But now I know that my sorrows are mine and will not leave me. In fact I know they are very old and very deep sorrows, and that no amount of positive thinking or optimism will make them less. The adolescent struggle to find someone to love me is still there; unfulfilled needs for affirmation as a young adult remain alive in me. The deaths of my mother and many family members and friends during my later years cause me continual grief. Beyond all that, I experience deep sorrow that I have not become who I wanted to be, and that the God to whom I have prayed so much has not given me what I have most desired.

To read the entire book, click on this link

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