The faint aroma of cigarettes and coffee blend together in this outside terrace, enclosed by city buildings and displaying only a rectangle of the blue sky above. I am reading Nouwen and thinking about the question he just posed: Can I drink the cup that Jesus drinks, down to the dregs?
Right now, I am enjoying a peaceful, happy season. I am devouring novels like they are food, and taking lots of time to sit outside and stare at the leaves and clouds. I feel no guilt, no shame, no doubt. I am enjoying a comfortable rhythm with my days, spending little time in the Bible, but much time in communication with my Father. There are those moments, of course: the moment when I scream at the kids because I’ve had it, or the moment when I choose myself over the love of another. Plenty of those moments, because I’m human. In this season, though, I have been given the grace to take them in stride and move on to the next thing.
I am determined to enjoy this season, for however long it will last, because I know the answer to Nouwen’s question — I will attempt to drink that cup, because it is full of life. Can I do it? I don’t know, but I’ll die trying. And I know the cup has God-determined portions of suffering and joy. So following this simple, story-soaked and hopeful time, there will be yet another chapter of sorrow to be brought through. By now, I know a just a bit about what those pages will hold — tiredness, doubt, fear, worry, and tears. I will hold onto the Bible for dear life, and search its passages for the sustenance needed to make it to evening, or even just the next hour. The suffering seasons are rough, and daybreak seems very, very far away. Improbable, even.
I don’t want to live in fear of those times. By now, I also know just a bit about the fruit of sorrow, and how occasions of peace are made all the sweeter in comparison. People have said this before me, of course. It’s not a new thought. But it really is true, as sanguine and cliche as it sounds. So I want to use this terrace’s sweet smells, those wispy clouds, this cinnamon roll with warm frosting, and this book with well-written truths and beautiful words, to fatten me up for the cold winds of winter. They will tatter my clothes and wear me to the bone, those winds. Instead of crouching in the corner, bracing myself for the fierce inevitable, I’m going to pick berries and laugh at the sky. This will help me drink that cup, I’m sure.