A clear draught

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I came across and old photo quite by chance, putting things away. It set me off thinking, as such things do. In the picture my late partner is holding a coffee cup… You can’t see it, but I know precisely what it looked like all those years ago. White with a blue rim and dots, with three tiny flowers, red, yellow and blue.

I remember it because it meant something. Not in itself, of course, but because of circumstance. When he died I had just made him his morning coffee. There was a moment when it was all ‘over’, when the ambulance men had left and I waited for the undertaker, and I picked up the cup, still bearing the last traces of warmth, and I finally wept.

I used that cup for a long time afterwards… just me… even when it was chipped and the handle dangerously cracked. I used it till I didn’t need to… then it went in the cupboard. It stayed there until I didn’t need it to be there anymore. It took a while.

Why? Because it held more than coffee for me.

As I drove into town, I got to thinking…

We can be picky about cups and glasses, those vessels which seem to epitomise that which they hold. Champagne, a rarity, I like to drink from a flute, red wine from a deep bellied glass. Tea must come in a china cup with a saucer… or a big mug filled with a deep mahogany brew.  Coffee, to be fair, can be administered through an IV drip for all I care… but my preference is for the tiny cups of espresso.

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There is a reason beyond habit for these things. Champagne really does taste better in a flute… honestly, there have been scientific analyses done to prove it… something to do with the way the gas bubbles collect in the glass. The same for red wine, though more to do with the warmth of the hand that holds the bowl. Tea ? Let’s not go there… I’m a Yorkshire lass… it isn’t up for discussion.  You get the picture.

I do wonder though if the vessel holds expectation just as much as liquid. We see the shining silver and porcelain of a tea-room and expect good tea… A tiny cup and a pavement café in Paris are synonymous with that certain je ne sais quoi. The misted surface of a cold glass of beer simply invites thoughts of a hot summer’s day… We see and expect even before we taste.

Yet, if we are thirsty, truly thirsty, do we care about the vessel that holds the water? The vessel merely contains, so that what is held within may be moved from source to lip, it gives the water shape… may even seem to colour it… but what lies within the vessel is still water.  Do we need crystal glasses or fashionable plastic bottles? A cracked mug… a paper cup… our hands… even, perhaps especially, just plunging our face into a mountain stream  and drinking from the earth… all will serve, for it is not the vessel that counts, but what it holds. To those whose thirst is urgent and visceral even a muddied puddle holds salvation.

In many of the Sufi poems we ourselves are likened to vessels shaped by the Hand of the Potter. It does not matter if, as Khayyam wrote, the Hand shook in the making, nor if it the vessel has been chipped and cracked by usage. It matters little if it thinks itself fit for champagne, comfortable enough for tea, or as holy as a chalice… it is filled with what is needed to quench the thirst of the one who drinks. The pot has no say in the matter. It is filled by another Hand.

When we are seeking the clear water of inner truth we can find it in many unexpected and unlikely places and the expectations we have for the vessel may not reflect what it holds. The draught in the chalice may be wine or bitter herbs, the clay bowl hold pure water, we cannot know until we raise it to our lips and taste what lies within.

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com
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48 Responses to A clear draught

  1. Beautiful, Sue – though bitter-sweet to read about your partner. I’m so sorry. But I share your feelings about about the importance of the vessel to the enjoyment of the contents. Brandy can ONLY be sipped from a snifter. And coffee is lousy in a paper cup, but if that’s the only way it comes, I’ll take it every time.

    May the Maker fill our vessels with joy in 2017.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”


  2. Ace of cups.Always a card of good omen 🙂 Beautiful post. It reminded me of many people and times and places.


  3. A lovely, lovely post, Sue. I am sorry to hear about your partner. My father died when I was three months old of a massive heart attack. Recently, I have given thought to my mother witnessing his death and felt great admiration for her and how she picked up the pieces and carried on with a small child. It is not something I ever thought about before.


  4. jenanita01 says:

    Such a simple thing… we do it every day without thought, but people all over the world have no water, and that just isn’t right…


  5. Bun Karyudo says:

    I agree with the other commenters about the beauty of your post, although the section at the beginning where you talk about your partner was heartbreakingly sad.

    Anyway, I wish you all the very best for 2017, Sue! I hope it’s a great year for you.


  6. bobcabkings says:

    There’s so much here; the memories contained in things, the fittingness of container and contents, and the unique taste of every moment.


  7. bobcabkings says:

    Reblogged this on cabbagesandkings524 and commented:
    memory and tasteing

    Liked by 1 person

  8. fransiweinstein says:

    Love this Sue, although I am sorry it conjured a sad memory. It’s interesting to look back and “see” the mementos we cling to, to remind us of our loved ones -nd also to help us cope with their loss. I agree with you about the vessel being as important as its contents. It makes it a ritual instead of just a glass of wine or a cup of tea. For me, coffee isn’t coffee, it isn’t satisfying if it isn’t in a mug. And there’s no question, that for me clasping my hands around a snifter, swirling the liquid and warming it gives me as much pleasure as drinking the brandy. It makes it an experience, not just a drink. Thanks for this post — I now have lovely images floating around in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. pjlazos says:

    I agree, Sue. The vessel holds as much importance as the thing that fills it. I am sorry for what was probably a most devastating loss and I wish you much love and joy in the coming new year. You are a beautiful writer. I hope your gift helps you set the world in a light that suffuses your soul and ignites your spirit.


  10. Jennie says:

    Beautiful, Sue! The transition from your late husband and the coffee cup to vessels and how they hold meanings is perfect. This is quite a moving story.


  11. Lovely post Sue. I can identify, but for me it’s my Dad’s cardigan. I still have it, though it is tatty, threadbare, poorly darned (by me) and way past its best. I have a photo of him wearing it when my Mum had finished knitting it for their 25th Wedding Anniversary. That was way back in 1975.


  12. Such a thought-provoking post, Sue.xx


  13. Widdershins says:

    The sweetest Mystery of all. 🙂


  14. dgkaye says:

    A touching post Sue. It’s funny the things we hold dear to us because in a way, we use some sort of vessel to hold certain memories. Thanks for sharing your heartfelt bitter sweet story. ❤


  15. macjam47 says:

    A beautiful post, Sue. I can identify with your partner’s cup. After my son passed away, there were things I could not part with, or even let others touch, but as time goes on the sadness is eased by memories of his life well-lived. I’m glad you’ve moved beyond the sadness of your loss and can cherish your memories. We are all vessels that hold a myriad of life experiences and memories. xxx


    • Sue Vincent says:

      You know how close I came to losing my son…but even so, there was always a spark of denial, a refusal to believe it could happen. I cannot imagine your loss; no parent should have to lose a child. But time, though it may not completely heal, knits the wound enough for us to hold it together. Then maybe appreciate what was added to oyr lives, rather than feeling only loss xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I love the way your posts can seem to go in one direction and then shift in a way that makes what went before even more relevant than expected.
    Lovely post, Sue – and the underlying message is so true.


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