In Chinese, the word for cup and life sound the same so giving a cup means inviting someone in your life for a lifetime. A cup is a symbol of enduring friendship.
The tradition of gifting cups started in pain for me. After 3 years of living life side by side my dear friends felt led on a different path. After 7 years of leaving others I now understood what it feels like when someone leaves. It feels terrible. What once filled up areas of life goes and it leaves a painful vacancy along with not much energy to fill it. I had not come to peace with it yet. I fought someone…God.
I gave my friends (and myself) the first cup trusting that God was in this and that He had a plan for my future and for theirs even if it meant thousands of kilometers of distance. A white cup with green leaves covers the outside. I hoped that our friendship, once they left, would live like the green leaves and continue to grow.
Every year we continued to meet and each year someone brought a cup as a gift or we bought one together to remember the year. God grew our friendship in a unique way. The cups became a sacred remembrance like the stones the Israelites laid in the desert to mark something the Lord did for them. We cried and laughed, shopped and sat on those weekends. I cherished and looked forward to them all year.
Those meetings in the spring in the historic streets of the Far East will ended. I am the last still living in Asia. Still more friends left after them and I snatched cups from their give away piles. Cups fill my cabinet, each one reminding me of a special friend.
Being left with a void after saying goodbye is something I’m thankful for with tears and still a frequent stabbing pain. A void the Lord fills better than any beverage, movie, book, or ministry I know…but the pain still resides as well.
Living with the void hurts but the filling of the void by the only One who truly fills anything is worth the wait.
Yet again, I wait.