Reading: Conclusion–The Answer & Epilogue–One Cup, One Body
“As we drink the cup, we drink the cup that Jesus drank, but we also drink our cup.”
We have been on an incredible and spirit-filled summer journey together, and I am deeply grateful to each and every person who has travelled with us, both actively and silently. We have all been blessed by your participation, your sharing, and your prayers.
And as we complete our journey, it is important to take the time to reflect on the experience to see where we have been, to treasure what we learned, and to understand how we have grown so that our time together with Henri as our guide may be truly memorable and, perhaps, even life changing.
In my professional life I am often called on to prepare PowerPoint® presentations that attempt to show in a few words the highlights of work we accomplished (note: work that is never as meaningful, enlightening, or rewarding as reading and reflecting on the the writing of Henri Nouwen). It occurred to me this week that Henri himself poses Jesus’ question “Can you drink the cup?” and then he provides us with the PowerPoint highlights of his answer if we simply use his chapter titles.
We can drink the cup that Jesus drank by…
- Holding… The Cup of Sorrow …The Cup of Joy
- Lifting… The Cup of Blessings… To Life
- Drinking… The Cup of Salvation… To the Bottom
Like many things in the spiritual world, it is both that simple and that difficult. Henri reminds us that Jesus’ question will have a different meaning for us every day of our lives and he asks, “Can we embrace fully the sorrows and joys that come to us day after day?” Then Henri assures us that if make the commitment and persevere in the three disciplines “…we are transformed into the one body of the living Christ, always dying and always rising for the salvation of the world.”
I invite you to take some time to look back over our time together and remember the most important things you learned or heard in your reflections. If you are willing, please share with us the one or two things that you really want to take with you and integrate more fully into your life from here on in.
In closing I would like to thank Maureen at the Henri Nouwen Society, regular book discussion facilitator Brynn Lawrence, and in a special way each of you for making this summer discussion such a rewarding experience for us all. If you have found this to be worthwhile, I encourage you to participate in the next book discussion this Advent.
And in the words of St. Francis, “May the Lord give you peace.”
August 8th Update: As we come to the end of the final week of our discussion I once again want to thank each of you that travelled with us on this spirit-filled journey. It has been a blessing to read and reflect on the heartfelt sharings. I have spent this week at the Deer Valley YMCA Family Camp with my wife Dawn, my daughter, son-in-law and three grandsons. This was my 11th summer here. I was led to Deer Valley in 2004 at a very difficult time in my life–and the experience of returning each year has been transformative. We are Week 8 campers and we have a very special summer “community” here. Arts and crafts is one of the many family-friendly activities at DV. In 2004 I painted a bisque cup that I later realized accurately portrayed the challenges I was facing at that time. This year–10 years later–I am in a much different and better place, and sharing the writing of Henri Nouwen in online discussions with people like each of you on this journey had a lot to do with it. So I decided to paint another bisque cup that illustrated where I hope I am heading on my spiritual journey. It is shown in the photo below.
Thanks again for your presence and participation.