in it together.

“To eat this meal together is to meet at the level of our most basic humanness, which involves our need not just for food but for each other. I need you to help fill my emptiness just as you need me to fill yours. As for the emptiness that’s still left over, well, we’re in it together, or it in us. Maybe it’s most of what makes us human and makes us brothers and sisters.” -Frederick Buechner

When we went to Prince Edward Island two summers ago, we bought an unglazed wine glass. The potter claimed that the clay would absorb whatever it is in red wine that causes me to get headaches after drinking it. We decided that even if it wasn’t true, it was a pretty cup and would be a nice memento.

But it does appear to work. I can drink red wine from that cup and not have a dull, persistent ache across the top of my head. It also changes the flavor a bit, smoothing out the bite which is my least favorite part about drinking red wine.

It is impossible to drink from this cup and not be reminded of communion. That’s mostly when I have red wine, for one thing, and the shape of this cup, the way it is held, echo the cup of forgiveness. Despite its many similarities, there is no cup that takes the bite and sting out of the life we have here. The promise of new life does not mean that we won’t experience pain.

This is something I have thought about a lot this week. Atticus has had a virus, and his temperature was over 105 two days in a row. He had tubes put in his ears yesterday. I would have liked to give him something to fix that for him, something to take away his pain. In fact, I would have liked something for myself, for the scary moments of seeing him so sick and for the surgery, when he had to be away from me for longer than expected.

When he was dedicated over the summer, we prayed that he would be strengthened through injury and illness. If I hadn’t prayed that for many other children over the years, I doubt I would have been able to pray it for my own. During this long, difficult week, I took some (small) comfort in the idea that what he was going through would make him stronger, better able to fight off illness in the future. I cannot protect him from pain, but there is the grace to make it through. This week, it looked like two hands clasped in a waiting room, a sick little boy snuggling with his daddy, a Chick-fil-a breakfast delivery. And, yes, a cup of red wine. There is not much comfort in the idea of learning or growing from pain. But at least we can go through it together.

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