on drinking

In whatever country or culture we find ourselves, having a drink together is a sign of friendship, intimacy, and peace. Being thirsty is often not the main reason to drink. We drink to "break the ice," to enter into a conversation, to show good intention, to express friendship and goodwill, to set the stage for a romantic moment, to be open, vulnerable, accessible. It is no surprise that people who are angry at us, or who come to accuse us or harass us, won't accept a drink from us. They would rather say: 'I will come straight to the point of my being here.' Refusing a drink is avoiding intimacy.

At worst, drinking together is saying, 'We trust each other enough that we don't want to poison each other.' At best, it is saying 'I want to get close to you and celebrate life with you.' It breaks through the boundries that seperate us and invites us to recognize our shared humanity. Thus, drinking together can be a true spiritual event, affirming our unity as children of God.

--Henri J.M. Nouwen

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