Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Short reflection on "Lifting the cup"

Other than visiting hospital for regular consultation, blood test, and injection, and receiving short visits from relatives, I have more time to read and to watch TV. In one of my most recent readings, I came across a paragraph by Henri Nouwen in his Can you drink the cup? This small booklet can be divided into three parts: 1) Holding the cup of life; 2) Lifting the cup; 3) Drinking the cup. In the second part about lifting the cup, he says,

"Mostly we are willing to look back at our lives and say: 'I am grateful for the good things that brought me to this place.' But when we lift our cup to life, we must dare to say: 'I am grateful for all that has happened to me and led me to this moment.' This gratitude which embraces all of our past is what makes our life a true gift for others, because this gratitude erases bitterness, resentments, regrets, and revenges as well as all jealousies and rivalries. It transforms our past into a fruitful gift for the future, and makes our life, all of it, into a life that gives life." (Henri J.M. Nouwen, Can you drink the cup? Bandra, Mumbai: The Pauline Sisters Bombay Society, 1996, pp.73-4)

This paragraph stands out for me because Nouwen is challenging me to be grateful for ALL that has happened to me, including my cancer. Like what he said, we are normally grateful for the good that happened to us, but not the mistakes we made, not the misfortunes that befell us, and certainly not our flaws. However, only when we truly embrace ALL our past can we truly allow God to transform us, and be a gift for ourselves and for the others. As I thought about how J.I.Packer portrays Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph, in his Knowing God, Packer highlights the character flaws in each of them, and yet God continued to mould them throughout their entire lives. The biblical author makes no effort to mask their flaws, and I believe God works with our flaws, our mistakes, and misfortunes as well, and when we fully accept who we are, we create room to acknowledge who we truly are, and the space for to share our lives with others authentically.

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