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The Finding of the Silver Cup by Joseph's Brothers, fresco, St. Sophia Church, Macedonia, c. 1350

I started writing The Silver Cup in February, 2012, but it had a different working title then. I was calling it Longing for Home, which was pretty fitting, if somewhat cliché. I had felt that longing ever since I left my faith community behind. It was probably one reason that Thomas Wolfe’s writing meant so much to me—phrases like, “Oh lost and by the wind grieved” and “You can’t go home again.” I hoped I might be able to prove him wrong.

When I’d completed several chapters, I was out walking one day and listening to a rock station on Pandora. America’s song, “Lonely People” came on. As the group sang, I knew I had to change the title of my book. The story of my spiritual journey was so much about persistence, about not giving up until I could once again become part of a faith community, about no longer being one of the lonely people.

There were many reasons I chose to publish the book as a serial on my website. One was so I could engage with readers with an immediacy that isn’t readily available in other formats. I got what I wanted through comments written on the blog, in e-mails, on Facebook, and in person. Several people asked where the title had come from. I hoped that a contest to guess the source of the title would increase engagement.

The reference to the song was highly specific, so I was unsure whether anyone would guess it. To my surprise, my brother Ed, a theater man and also a mental health and substance abuse counselor, got it. As far as I knew, until I sent him an email inviting him to read The Silver Cup, he didn’t even know I’d written the book. When I thought about it, it made sense that Ed would pick the winning answer, as he is an astute consumer of literature and popular culture. I was truly pleased that someone had gotten the reference.

There were fifteen entries in all. The very first response came from Mary Kok, a member of the CRC in Wheaton, IL. “I imagine your lovely title comes from the story of Joseph's silver cup in Genesis 44 and 45. This has always been a favorite, the telling of Joseph being reunited with his brothers.” I loved this answer, which, because it is about reconciliation, made a perfect connection. To my surprise, three more people offered the same response. My friend Josh, whom I met soon after his LDS missionary service ended, expanded, “I see the 'Silver Cup' in this story as a REDEMPTIVE piece, an object that allowed for reconciliation and reunion.”

Josh, whose comments throughout his reading of The Silver Cup were sensitive and deeply insightful, actually sent in three entries. His second entry suggested two additional biblical references. From Psalm 116 he quoted, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.” And then he brought up Jesus’ plea in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me…nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” Josh added, “Considering these two scriptures in addition to your remarkable story, The Silver Cup has meant to me an act of submission. This sweet surrender, as it has been called, is to be willing to accept all that life and goodness offers us, the pain, the weaknesses, the doubts, the disagreements, and the suffering notwithstanding.”

Three people referenced a Silver Chalice or Holy Grail. This is also fitting, as The Silver Cup is definitely a story about a quest. My friend Diane Schmidt suggested that the role of quester could be my personality type, and although, as I wrote in the book, I do not want to always be a seeker, there is another side of me that loves the romance and the perils of the quest.

Diane’s contest entry offered a Jewish perspective, “The silver cup filled with wine could be the cup of Elijah set out at the Passover Seder to signify that the prophet Elijah enters our homes then; it might also be the cup of wine in the Catholic faith that represents the blood of Christ. In this book's context, it is full, depicting the fullness of spirit in the journey of the Seeker, and symbolizes the Soul that is Already Complete and Whole.” I loved her conclusion, suggesting wholeness at the end of the quest.

Four entries named the communion cup as the symbolic meaning of The Silver Cup. It was a natural deduction because, as one entrant remarked, communion is a thread that runs throughout the book. Doug Houck, Carla C’de Baca-Martinez, and my brother Bob Kruis understood the depth of my need for communion. Doug wrote, “The Silver Cup is the cup of wine at communion, and it is a symbol of acceptance and inclusion of you into the body of Christ. You longed to participate in communion as a child, and went through many years of covert and overt rejection.” Bob elaborated, “You named it The Silver Cup because you long to partake in and to be in whole-hearted communion. You want to be accepted and loved for who you are and to love others for who they are.” Carla spoke from the depths of her own arduous journey, “Communion is what I have been seeking also for my entire life—communion with like minded people; with something greater than myself; people with whom I can discuss religion and ideas. As a child, I went to catechism, went to church [Catholic], and much like you I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. It took many, many years to undo the negative messages that were hammered into my head. I applaud you on your continuing journey.”

Every one of the answers showed depth of understanding and could have been a winner. Some of them I wish I had thought of including in my story–especially the story of Joseph and his brothers. One of the things I loved most about these entries and about the makeup of the readers of The Silver Cup is the diversity of backgrounds they represent. Contest entries were submitted by LGBTQ+ and straight people, people from Christian Reformed, Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, Buddhist, nondenominational Christian, and Presbyterian traditions, whether past or present. I have thanked each of you individually, but here I thank you again for coming with me on this journey and for engaging so thoughtfully in the contest.

© 2015 Anna Redsand All Rights Reserved
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