Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Many a Slip... When Unintended

“Between the cup and the lip is often the slip” [or more literally] “There’s many a slip between cup and lip.”

–Cato the Elder in Aulus Gellius.

Simply our plans can easily go awry! There is almost no more certain a truth to life as this. Just look around you in the world of sport, media, business etc—even to our personal lives—we slip at the least expected moment. Then what?

So the story goes:

“Neptune’s son, Ancaus had a beautiful vineyard which he was extremely proud of. He made the many slaves who took care of it work really hard. Once an overworked slave predicted that his master would not taste the wine produced that year.

“When the grapes had been plucked and the wine extracted, Ancaus sent for the slave who had made the prediction. He poured out a cup of wine for himself and asked the slave why his prediction wasn’t coming true. The slave apparently said, “There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip”. As Ancaus lifted the cup to taste the new wine, another slave came running and said that a wild boar had entered the vineyard and was destroying everything. Neptune’s son put the cup of wine down and raced to the vineyard. You can probably guess the rest of the story. Ancaus was killed by the boar.[1]

And this is true biblically also, for instance Proverbs 16. Without God our plans are at jeopardy. He can establish our plans, however, if we defer with him, if they’re godly plans. He, of course, establishes the actual steps of our plans.

What can this truth tell us about life? How can we now approach life so that this truth is catered for?

We cannot ever really take any part of our lives for granted. We think erroneously and dangerously that we live undeterred in a bubble of our own making. Hogwash. There’s nothing certain in life, but a truth that is proposed above is a certainty for us, much more than we readily expect.

Do take care.

© 2009 S. J. Wickham.

[1] S. Upendran, “What is the meaning and origin of ‘many a slip between the cup and the lip’?” in The Hindu (India’s National online paper) 8 April, 2003. Retrieved 18 September, 2009.

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