Day 21 – Can You Drink the Cup? – Henri Nouwen

Day 21

Can You Drink the Cup?

Henri Nouwen

I found Trevor on the hospital grounds, as always, looking for flowers. When he saw me his face lit up, and he ran up to me as if we had never been apart and said: “Henri, here are some flowers for you.” Together we went to the Golden Room. The table was beautifully set, and about twenty-five people had gathered around it. Trevor and I were the last to sit down.
After the opening prayer, Trevor walked to the side table where there were different drinks: wine, soft drinks, and juices. He said: “Henri, I want a Coke.” I poured him a Coke, took a glass of wine for myself, and returned to the table.

People were making small talk. Many of the guests were strangers trying to get to know each other. The general atmosphere was quiet, somewhat solemn. I got quickly involved in a conversation with my right-hand neighbor and didn’t pay much attention to Trevor. But suddenly Trevor stood up, took his glass of Coke, lifted it, and said with a loud voice and a big smile: “Ladies and gentlemen … a toast!” Everyone dropped their conversation and turned to Trevor with puzzled and somewhat anxious faces. I could read their thoughts: “What in the heck is this patient going to do? Better be careful.”

But Trevor had no worries. He looked at everybody and said: “Lift up your glasses.” Everyone obeyed. And then, as if it were the most obvious thing to do, he started to sing: “When you’re happy and you know it … lift your glass. When you’re happy and you know it . . . lift your glass. When you’re happy and you know it, when you’re happy and you know it, when you’re happy and you know it … lift your glass.” As he sang, people’s faces relaxed and started to smile. Soon a few joined Trevor in his song, and not long after everyone was standing, singing loudly under Trevor’s direction.

Trevor’s toast radically changed the mood in the Golden Room. He had brought these strangers together and made them feel at home. His beautiful smile and his fearless joy had broken down the barriers between staff and patients and created a happy family of caring people. With his unique blessing, Trevor had set the tone for a joyful and fruitful meeting. The cup of sorrow and joy had become the cup of blessings.

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