What I'm Doing

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Common Cup

At one point during the Orthodox wedding ceremony, the bride and groom drink from a common cup. This is not the Chalice of Communion; it is simply a cup of wine (at our parish, we have wine imported from Cana of Galilee). However, it, like everything else, carries symbolic meaning. The most obvious meaning is that of the bride and groom sharing of one life together, and all that brings.

One interpretation of this that I have come across goes, "Your joys will be doubled, and your sorrows halved, because they are shared."

I've thought about this some since being sick last week. As I said in my last post, I think I had the flu, and it put me out of commission for a few days. During those few days, I was even more grateful for my wife than usual! She took care of me, made sure I ate enough, let me rest, and so on. As I started feeling better, she got sick, and I got to return the favor. I hope I took care of her as well as she took care of me.

I found, last week, that there is certainly something to having a spouse that can take care of you when you're sick. You don't get lonely laying around at home, for one thing. For another, of course, you can relax; you don't have to fix your own meals, which, when all you feel like you can do is sleep is a great blessing. In some ways, it's like being a child again and having your parents take care of you (except, of course, that you're an adult, and your relationship with your spouse is different from your relationship with your parents).

Yeah, this isn't terribly profound, or even well-written, but last week, in a perhaps small way, I think I began to really understand the interpretation quoted above of the common cup. Thank God for my wife!


NewsWeeks said...

Hey man, don't know you, but I like your blog. Anyway, here's a thought I had:
We always talk about the sorrows being halved if it's your sorrow. If you lose your job, let's say, you have a shoulder to cry on and hence your "sorrow is halved," to use the parlence of religion.
But what about if your wife loses her job? Surely that's some sorrow that you have to take on that would not otherwise exist in your life without her.
I'm not trying to start a fight or anything or be intolerant of your church's ways (which are different than mine, but really just superficially). It's just a question I've had before.
Do you really believe that your sorrows are halved? And can you do so without making a circuitous logical train that says something like "You get more sorrow, but the help you receive lessens boths sorrows to the point of half, usually"?
With my friend's wedding comig up, it's a point I've been wondering. Write back what you think.
Peace yo.

CoderForChrist said...

Thanks for the comment! I'm glad you're enjoying my blog; hopefully, I'll get around to writing more and make it more enjoyable (though don't cross your fingers; I think I've said that about 10 times since starting this blog).

Anyway, you have a point; it would seem that the halving of my own sorrows would be negated by the addition of my wife's sorrows being halved.

I'm not sure that I have much of an answer to your question, but here goes: The statement to which you're referring is not a quantitative statement. It is more a poetic statement, or, if you prefer, a "figure of speech." It is the language of experience, not cold logic, and it is the sort of statement that unfolds itself to those who experience it.

Frankly, how can anyone quantify sorrow, or even joy? How can sorrow be made into something so discreet that it can be halved?

Ultimately, it's tied in with love. The joy of marital love is the mutual giving of yourself to the other. There is a blessedness in that. There is a blessedness in taking someone's sorrows upon yourself out of love (if done out of a sense of duty, I don't think that blessedness will be there). Perhaps a part of this is (forgive me if I speak wrongly here) that, I think, we are most like God when we are loving, for "God is love."

But again, I am trying to put words to experience; this is not always possible. I will just say that, as I said in the post, Kristen got sick just as I was recovering. Surely, if we are speaking quantitatively, her sickness would have negated the halving of my own suffering with illness, since now I had to take care of her. But, you know, it didn't. It was, in a sense, a joy to take care of her.

Anyway, I hope that, at the least, I've made you think I answered your question. ;-)