A Steaming Cup of Suffering and Shame…

I wept wildly most of the way here. I am at a cafe, the latte sits to my left, the cashew milk seared my lips with the first sip. How eerily similar to the truth – it has had the same effect. How apt.

Shortly I am heading to the nurse practitioner about increasing inflammation, and then to my psychologist to weep wildly again. I have but forty-one minutes to share forty-two years of suffering and shame. No pressure.

Today is a day when the cup of suffering and shame seems particularly long on the draw. The words of C.S. Lewis are indelibly imprinted on the screen of my mind…

“Don’t you remember on earth there were things too hot to touch with you finger but you could drink them alright? Shame is like that. If you will attempt it—if you will drink the cup to the bottom—you will find it very nourishing; but try to do anything else with it and it scalds.”

I look at that latte. Pink lipstick clings to the cup, left behind by lips that moments ago quivered with the application.

Drink the cup to the bottom and you will find it very nourishing – do anything else with it – and it scalds. I close my eyes as long as I dare, time is short and I wish to share.

I take another sip, more lipstick clings to the cup, I swallow the hot liquid – it goes down hard.

I was in Mark 10 this morning where a few foolish followers of our Lord asked him if they could have a good seat, a seat next to him when he gets to where he’s going. He chides, with utter gentleness…

“You don’t have a clue what you’re asking for! Are you prepared to drink from the cup of suffering that I am about to drink? And are you able to endure the baptism into death that I am about to experience?” (Mark 10:38 NPT)

Fools that they are, faithful fools, they say – “Yes, we are able.” (Mark 10:39 NPT)

I stand aghast. You don’t know what you ask, and you have no idea what you are stating about your ability. He knows, he and all who likewise drink of this insufferable cup will know it eventually too.

Drink the cup to the bottom.

I lift my glass with a shaky hand. Another hot swallow. Imprints of quivering lips left behind as evidence of one sipping on shame. Only half gone, with twenty-one minutes left.

Our Lord doesn’t say all of the things I would say. He submits no warnings. He doesn’t dissuade. 

“You will certainly drink from the cup of my sufferings and be immersed into my death, but to have you sit in the position of highest honor is not mine to decide. It is reserved for those whom grace has prepared them to have it.”

You will certainly drink. The cup of my sufferings. Says He whose cup was too hot to do anything but drink it to the bottom. He did nothing else with it. He who felt forsaken, sipped his cup of suffering and shame – alone.

To Him, I raise my glass in solitude and drink it to the dregs. The cup cools the further down you go, it burns less and fills more.

I cradle the cup with care, compassion and communion.

I must reapply my lipstick as I race to the nurse… the stains I will lovingly leave behind.

I pass it back with hope.