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  • Cass Rulon-Miller

What's in Your Cup?

July 9, 2020


You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.

Why did you spill the coffee?

"Well because someone bumped into me, of course!"

Wrong answer.

You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.

Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.

Whatever is inside the cup, is what will spill out.

Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It's easy to fake it, until you get rattled.

So we have to ask ourselves… "what's in my cup?"

When life gets tough, what spills over?

Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility?

Or anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions?

You choose!

Today let's work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy…

~Thich Nhat Hanh~

A friend of mine sent me this a few months ago thinking I could use it for one of my letters. I came across it again this week, ironically as I am going off all caffeine products due to severe reflux. I so want to fill my cup with coffee right now, but I know that is not the right thing to do! What is right for me to do is to fill my cup with something more nourishing.


This brings me to an incident that happened to me the other day. I was driving down Route 3 in the left hand lane. I was going the speed limit; well, maybe a little faster than the speed limit. When I looked in my rear view mirror, I saw a person tailgating me. I got a little agitated, but decided I would just pull over to the right hand lane. Unfortunately there was no room. I therefore sped up a little to put more space between my car and the other person’s car. After doing this, I looked in the rear view mirror again, and saw she was even closer. My agitation grew and I judged her to be a crazy b**ch as I tensed up my jaw and shoulders. We traveled like that for about 100 feet, when all of the sudden, she got into the right hand lane and entered the ramp onto 476. “Oh!” I said, “That is why she was tailgating me. She needed to get into the right hand lane ASAP so she wouldn’t miss the ramp.” At that point I felt kind of foolish for getting so angry and expending so much negative energy.


I then remembered the above question of what was in my cup that caused me to react that way. It suddenly dawned on me that it was fear of re-experiencing two incidents from the past. One was when I was hit from behind on the Schuylkill Expressway by someone who had not even slowed down. Another was when I was about to get hit from behind by a speeding Mac Truck as we rounded a blind curve and the traffic had stopped. Luckily the driver of the truck made the decision to avoid hitting me by pulling to the right and going over a low medium onto another road.


Thich Nhat Hanh asks if our cups are full of anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions. The answer is yes, if those things are brewed in fear; fear which is often linked to past experiences of our lives. Fear is the instigator of those types of actions and so many more. In AA they say that fear is the cause of all our character defects. When we fear we will not get what we want or need, or we fear that we will lose what we have, and then act upon that fear, our actions become questionable.

Looking back on the past four months, I am sure everyone can say that their cup was full of fear at one point or another, and perhaps that made us act in ways that we wouldn’t normally have acted. Let’s now take steps to replace that fear with faith and in doing the next right thing, so that when we are bumped, only the fruits of the spirit will spill out onto others.


22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 New International Version (NIV)

With Love and peace,

Cass Rulon-Miller

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