Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken my off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. Psalm 30:5b; 11-12 (NRSV)
In Scripture, we see Jesus take a cup, give thanks, and then share the cup with his disciples (Luke 22:17). Henri Nouwen elaborates on Jesus’ actions by using the cup as a metaphor for our lives. He says that we must all:
- Hold the cup of life and look deeply into who we really are.
- Lift the cup and share our shame and vulnerabilities with others and giving others the chance to do the same.
- Drink from the cup by – “fully appropriating and internalizing our own unique existence with all its sorrows and joys.”
Notice next that Nouwen tells us the cup contains both our sorrows and our joys. “The cup of life is the cup of joy as much as it is the cup of sorrow. It is the cup in which sorrows and joys, sadness and gladness, mourn-ng and dancing are never separated. If joys could not be where sorrows are, the cup of life would never be drinkable. That is why we have to hold the cup in our hands and look carefully to see the joys hidden in our sorrows.“
Most of us are very willing to appropriate and internalize our sorrows. We are even often prone to dwell on our bitterness and brokenness. But in order to become a wounded healer we must seek joy! Ironically, the sorrow can become the joy.
Nouwen continues by noting that our cup is often so full of pain that joy seems completely unreachable.
“When we are crushed like grapes, we cannot think of the wine we will become. The sorrow overwhelms us, makes us throw ourselves on the ground, face down, and sweat drops of blood. Then we need to be reminded that our cup of sorrows is also our cup of joy and that one day we will be able to taste the joy as fully as we now taste the sorrow.“
Understanding that our sorrows and wounds are also our joys is the hallmark of a wounded healer. Instead of being filled with anger and fear, we are filled with gratitude for what our wounds have taught us.
MULLING IT OVER: What is in your cup of sorrows? How can your cup of joy temper these sorrows to prepare you to use your woundedness to speak into another’s life?