The Drinking Cup
Great-Grandpa walks twenty paces from the front door of the cottage. He steps just off the corner of the cement porch at a 45 degree angle. The cement is painted bright verdigris for him to see it. He notices the gravel under foot in the tire tracks that mound up along the slumped shoulders of the old stump. This is where Golden-Eyed Toad lives. She watched the great-grandchildren frolicking in the mud there one summer rainstorm like tadpoles. Great-Grandpa heard their delight and saw them in his own way.
At pace twenty, Great-Grandpa finds the rough bark of the pine, like a calloused hand extended in greeting. He runs his fingers up to the rusty nail in the bark. On the nail is a squat bright dandelion-yellow plastic mug with an aged ivory-colored rim. He pulls it off the hook. Two steps to the left from the tree is an old iron pump painted forest green. The handle curves out toward him in welcome. The cement dais that covers the well is speckled with Lake Erie quartz - some white, some the color of creamed corn. The textures welcome children’s feet and curious fingers. An old soup can sits next to the base of the pump containing water for priming. Great-Grandpa follows the handle down and reaches for the can. The slide from my childhood swing set forms the water way. Faded pink and blue rainbows that he cannot see run its course. He primes the pump with the old soup can of water pouring it over the top so it runs down into the pump. In the alchemy of thunderstorms, springs, air, pine roots, iron ore, and human muscle, the motion of the welcoming handle brings up water from this piece of earth.
Now, I invite my adult self beside my Great-Grandpa. Once again, I hear the glug and slosh as the water travels up. I see the first cup fill with an organic earth-steeped tea. Then, comes the celebration of cascades of bright water that reinvigorate the faded rainbows on the sliding board. The light plays in the droplets splashing from metal to ground, from the spout to speckle our clothes. Great-Grandpa puts the dandelion-yellow cup into the waterfall and it fills instantly. He holds it out to me. Suddenly, I am overwhelmed by the holiness of this moment. My child self walked to the pump with him many times. Today, I walk with my Great-Grandpa who no longer lives in the biological sense to a place that we no longer own. In the prayer that is my imagination, I drink the sweet cold water from the land that gave us birth. The minerals are part of my bones. The well water is in the tears that come as I remember. Let this water rush down the faded rainbows of myself and make them sparkle. Let wholeness pour forth from the life-giving earth once again not just for me but for every person, for every sentient being. Pass the dandelion-yellow drinking cup that brims with life to the one beside you who is parched.
This writing was inspired by the process of Active Imagination in Jungian Analysis. Justin is a Spiritual Companion in training with Oasis Ministries, on the Dharma path with the Karma Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism and profoundly curious about how Spirit works in each person’s life.