Day 28 – Can You Drink the Cup? – Henri Nouwen

Day 28

Can You Drink the Cup?

Chapter 7
DRINKING

The cup that we hold and lift we must drink.

I have very vivid memories of my first year at the University of Nijmegen in Holland. I had just been ordained a priest, and Cardinal Alftink had sent me to the Catholic university to work for a degree in psychology. But before the school year started, I had to undergo a long hazing process to be accepted into the student society and to become a member of a fraternity. Drinking beer was definitely one of the ways to get in! I wasn’t used to drinking that much beer and had a hard time showing any prowess in this domain. But once I was finally admitted into the society and had made some friends in the fraternity, “having a drink together” became an expression for sharing, personal attention, good conversation, and the deepening of fellowship. “Let’s have a beer!” “Can you join me for coffee?” “Let’s meet for tea.” “May I offer you a Heineken?” “What about another glass of wine?” “Come on, don’t be shy, let me pour you another … you deserve it!” These and other similar ways of speaking created an atmosphere of companionship and conviviality.

In whatever country or culture we find ourselves, having a drink together is a sign of friendship, intimacy, and peace. Being thirsty is often not the main reason to drink. We drink to “break the ice,” to enter into a conversation, to show good intention, to express friendship and goodwill, to set the stage for a romantic moment, to be open, vulnerable, accessible. It is no surprise that people who are angry at us, or who come to accuse us or harass us, won’t accept a drink from us. They would rather say: “I will come straight to the point of my being here.” Refusing a drink is avoiding intimacy.

 

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