Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 4 - The Boundaries of the Cup

"Energy is everywhere, but stillness plays a major role in its conversion from 'potential' to 'actualized' energy. At Callaway Gardens, I was amazed to lean that butterflies have to spread their wings in the morning sunshine because the scales on their wings are actually solar cells. Without that source of energy, they cannot fly." ~ Laurie Beth Jones

What I appreciate about Joyce Rupp's writing is it feels as though she is like me instead of a gifted and respected spiritual teacher. Admitting she has felt that, "I'm falling apart." "I can't seem to get it together."..."I came unglued."...When this happens I often have a feeling that all my energy and time is draining away, that I am unable to contain it." I felt as though she has been watching me.

"People, events, responsibilities, and multiple activities keep me hurrying and worrying with little time left for my inner self."

This morning I shared with a friend that committing to this blog for a six-week study is keeping me focused on finding time for my inner self.  I told him, "I still have the bulletin to finish, a sermon to write... I haven't exercised in several days, my house has got to be cleaned.... With all these things pulling at me, I would have pushed The Cup of Life to a back corner.

Maybe I am the only one who struggles to set boundaries, but probably not. Have you ever looked at shelves in your local Barnes and Noble at all the self-help/spiritual books!  I take comfort that even Joyce has felt these struggles. How else could she write in a way that I identify so easily?

"Lord, I want to know you, I want to love you, I want to know you..." so go the words of the hymn.  Joyce suggests that for us to truly know him, we have to set personal boundaries. Jesus modeled this for us. He was not healing and teaching 24/7.  Scripture tells us again and again that "he went alone to pray."

Once again, our cup is our teacher.  Joyce asks us to:
"Hold your cup in your hands. Touch the sides and the bottom of the cup. Trace the outside of the cup with your fingers. Run your fingers around the inside of the cup. Close your eyes and imagine your spiritual boundaries. Let yourself lean on God for awhile. Ask for whatever boundaries are needed in your spiritual life. Listen to God speak to you about these boundaries." (Joyce Rupp, Cup of Tea, p 34)
Joyce points out the obvious..."If the cup did not have the boundaries of sides and a bottom it could not hold anything in it. The cup has an opening - it is able to give and receive - but the boundaries keep what it contains from being spilled everywhere. 

Today, with the reflection, it was difficult for me to imagine my spiritual boundaries and to ask for whatever boundaries are needed in my spiritual life.  And listen to God speak to me about those boundaries!!  Even though I know all this in my "head" it is difficult for my heart to let go of some things. It feels as though God is asking me to choose between some people/responsibilities and Him.

And....HE IS! is hard, at least for me.

How about any of you?  Where did you sense yourself leaning toward God in today's reflection?  Where did you sense a bit of resistance?  In both cases, what need/what obstacle did you identify as being present?

What keeps me from having enough time to resource my inner life? 
Here are some boundaries I will keep:
What might Jesus' prayer have been when he left his busy life to be alone?
"MY" sense of what is important and needed often keep me from having the time to resource my inner life. Jones' learning about the butterflies really struck me! It also reminded me of the teaching of the "Lilies of the field..."  God has sent me many teachers, one being a young woman from my church. She laughs about God's "mistake" of giving us "the gift" of freed will. In some ways, she's right. Without that "gift" I might be more like the butterflies who stretch their wings, in order to receive the needed energy, before flying into their day.

Thanks to my commitment to an unseen audience of you, I will continue to set boundaries in the days and weeks to come in order to update this blog.  In many ways this blog has become my journal which is interesting.  I've never shared my journal writing with many...and here I am sending it out to the Universe!

The third question...What do some of you think Jesus' prayer might have been when he left the masses and the disciples to be alone?

Jesus, only from you comes my salvation, thus it is time spent with you that allows me to live fully.  It is time spent with you that fills my soul with your light, your joy, your love, and your peace.  Spirit, when I am weak, help me continue on this path toward wholeness. Amen.

"I will make one decision regarding, a boundary that will help protect my intentional time and place with God." (Rupp, p 35)

A couple of things to share:
1. Since this is a Lenten study, I thought some of you might be interested in reading T.S. Elliot's poem about Ash Wednesday. I think it was his first poem after becoming an Anglican. You can find this poem at: Ash Wednesday - A poem

2. I was not familiar with Callaway Gardens in Georgia.  The pictures are beautiful! If you would like to learn more...Callaway Gardens

Many Blessings ~ Sandi


  1. What a blessing to read todays blog. We are going to visit Callaway Gardens next week. Did not have any real direction other than to visit life long friend in Montgomery Al who is gradually being destroyed with Alzheimers. It's difficult to find the right action for a friend who helped mold us and now his own mold is shattered. After the visit, Callaway Gardens seems like a suitable destination.

  2. Make sure you check out the chapel. I had intended to put pictures of it on the blog, but then stayed with the butterflies. Enjoy your trip!

  3. Got a motel within 15 minutes of the gardens. So glad you led me to such a wonderful destination. Will check out the chapel and look forward to seeing all the azeleas. 70 miles south of Atlanta and very close to Warm Springs Ga where FDR vacationed in the 40s.

  4. I know that I need boundaries of discipline to stay connected. I need rules and consistency. Praise be for the Word to give me guidance. Just as a cup with no boundaries cannot hold anything, neither can I. Help me to be open to give and receive boundaries. May the Spirit help me protect my intentional time with God.