“Whatever one of us asked the other to do – it was assumed the asker would weigh all the consequences – the other would do. Thus one might wake the other in the night and ask for a cup of water; and the other would peacefully (and sleepily) fetch it. We, in fact, defined courtesy as ‘a cup of water in the night’. And we considered it a very great courtesy to ask for the cup as well as to fetch it.”
Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy
In this Christian classic, a contemporary of C.S. Lewis reflects on the love-of-a-lifetime that was his, albeit briefly, in a way that inspired countless Christian young women to elevate their own expectations of romance. The idea that it is possible to find a ‘soul mate’ would would not only bring you a glass of water in the middle of the night, but eagerly consume every book, every album, and every movie you had ever seen or heard, simply to be able to have a shared lexicon of love — it was bewitching to consider that such a man might actually exist.
What is your sign, your “cup of cold water” equivalent? Is it his taking the dog out each night before turning in, without fanfare or reminder? The way he turns on the coffee machine a few minutes before your feet hit the floor? What is it that says “love” most eloquently to you?
Today’s love in action: Surprise your spouse by bring that “cup of cold water in the night,” something that you know your spouse appreciates. It might be cooking a certain dish, watching a certain program, or some other way to say “I love you’ without words.