The Silver Cup
The snow just wouldn’t let up, seventeen straight days, no end in sight. Ella and Joseph sat comfortably by the fire. Their two little children were sleeping in the loft. Ella was 4 months along with their third child. They spoke of baby names as they had done on many occasions. Every time Joseph mentioned a name Ella would smile a little, and say “that’s nice but what do you think about this one?” Joseph always caved in, so naming their third child would be Ella’s choice as was the first two.
Their tranquility was suddenly interrupted with three loud knocks on the door. “Joseph open up. It’s Carl”. Joseph sprang to the door. Both wondered how Carl even got to their house in the deep snow. Carl was suffering from near hypothermia himself and had trouble speaking without slurring his words. Carl told them of a family of immigrants that were stranded in the snow up Eldridge pass. The Sheriff asked for volunteers to rescue the snow bound immigrants. Carl said that there were women and children. Many men had volunteered but the Sheriff turned them down if he thought they were too old or out of shape. “The Sheriff specifically asked for you, Joseph.” Without hesitation Joseph began collecting his gear. Ella fell to her knees in prayer and uncontrolled sobs.
Many a man had lost their way and their lives in the freezing mountains of Eldridge pass. Ella knew Joseph had to go, nevertheless, they both knew the risk. It was four days travel on foot to Eldridge pass. With the returning party, it could be 6 or 8 more days before Joseph would return. Fear gripped Ella’s heart. She was horrified. How could she let Joseph go?
Joseph had to do something to calm his suffering sweetheart.. Joseph went to the kitchen and opened the cupboard where Ella kept her special things. Joseph reached in and gripped their silver cup. He then went to the closet and opened a bottle of red wine and poured in a small amount. Joseph then knelt by his precious Ella and asked her to take a drink. As soon as Ella took a drink Joseph pressed the cup to his lips with these words. “ I promise you my love, this will not be the last time we drink from this cup together.” With that promise Ella released her grip on Joseph’s coat and let him go.
In the late 1800s in a central region of Alaska lived two newly weds, Ella Ball and Joseph Boyd. Alaska was at the top of the world. The landscape and vistas took your breath away. The young couple’s love for each other was also at the top of the world. Joseph worked every waking hour building a sturdy log cabin for his beautiful young bride before the winter snow fell. Just hours before the first winter storm came, Joseph waterproofed the roof.
Life could not have been better, they were so in love. Their first year passed quickly. In the spring Joseph and Ella planted a large enough garden to secure their vegetables for an entire year. The lakes and rivers were packed with fish and fowl. The forest was thick with bear, moose and deer. It seemed to them that Alaska was truly a Garden of Eden, at least six months out of the year.
Alaska was truly the last frontier. There were no stores to speak of and man truly subsisted by the ice of his brow. Joseph was thoughtful by nature and stressed over the couples upcoming one year anniversary. After several futile attempts to make her something, Joseph was fresh out of ideas. Nothing he thought of seemed good enough for his precious Ella.
While clearing land with his only mule, whom he affectionately called Ned, Joseph noticed a trapper camped by the river. Joseph approached the trapper with caution. In the wild you never sneak up on a sleeping bear, moose or trapper. Joseph shouted from a distance. The trapper jumped up startled. After the excitement wore off the two men sat and shared a chaw of tobaccy.
In their conversation the trapper pulled from his pack a small fruit jar half full with his favorite home made brew. He asked Joseph if he’d like a swig. Joseph was a little concerned about drinking from the same jar as this old trapper who was missing most of his teeth. Without any hesitation the old trapper reached again into his pack and pulled out a beautiful silver goblet. Joseph was taken by the silver cup and asked the trapper how he came about it. The trapper explained that he won it in a poker game in Oregon. Joseph asked the trapper if it was for sale. The trapper explained that it was not for sale at any price. Then the old trapper asked of Joseph’s interest in the cup. Joseph proceeded to tell the old trapper of his desire to provide his wife a gift. Well the old trapper repeated with sternness that the silver cup was not for sale.
Joseph left the old trapper by the river and moseyed on down for home. Surly Ella would understand their predicament and not worry about anything special for their first year anniversary. They went to bed that night and neither mentioned anything about their anniversary that was approaching the next day. Joseph hoped that Ella forgot and wouldn’t bring it up.
Ella arose early the next morning to fix a special breakfast for Joseph. Every breakfast was special to Joseph because Ella was such a great cook. Joseph waited a few extra minutes before arising to go down stairs so that Ella could get everything in order so that he wouldn’t ruin her surprise. When Joseph descended the stairs Ella was sitting in the rocking chair crying. Joseph felt horrible when he saw that Ella realized that he had forgot their first anniversary. Joseph ran to her and knelt by her side and put his head in her lap. He was just ready to whisper how sorry he was when his head hit something hard. He shouted “what did you hit me with?” Ella laughed as she pulled a silver cup out from underneath her shawl. Joseph was stunned to see the silver goblet but smart enough to keep his mouth shut, at least for a moment. “Where did you find that Ella?”, Joseph asked cautiously . “On the porch you silly man, right where you put it”. Ella teased Joseph about being so romantic for leaving her anniversary present on the front porch. Joseph was fast becoming a hero if he didn’t say too much. Ella loved the silver cupid attached to the handle. This silver cup became Ella’s most priceless possession. The silver cup became more precious with each passing day.
Ella went to the kitchen and filled the cup with a bit of red wine. Then with arms locked in embrace, Ella and Joseph both took a memorable drink from a silver cup that started a tradition that has been past down to their posterity for over 140 years. Every year on Joseph and Ella’s anniversary they locked arms and drank from that silver love goblet. Now there is nothing magical about the silver love cup, but from 1870 to the year 2007, of the scores of posterity that descended from Joseph and Ella who on their wedding day drank for that magic cup, there has never been one divorce in 147 years. My daughter Jolene drank from that cup on January 5th 2007.
The silver cupid was lost to the family in later years. This may have been as it should be. As love deepens over the years , it may seem that cupid is low on arrows, but to those who endure the deepening sacrifice of marriage, find a well of everlasting love.
Author’s Note: What a wonderful tradition. Marriage is ordained of God. Neither is the man without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord. I knelt at an alter with my special bride on June 29th 1978. We held hands and were married not for earth life only, but forever. We were married by a man that represented Jesus Christ. While this man stood at the end of the alter we looked at him. Symbolically we were taught that if we focus on Jesus Christ we will never slip away from each other.
The Prophet Isaiah taught us in chapter 22. I will fasten Him as a nail in a sure place. When Jesus was nailed to the cross it took two nails in each hand. One in the palm, and one in between the two bones in the wrist. This extra nail was considered the sure place, as it was surrounded by bones, which would better support the weight of his body.
When the honeymoon ends and real life begins, only those who focus on the Savior Jesus Christ will be drawn to him and be thus drawn closer to each other. Like a triangle, your spouse and you are at the short end of the triangle, and the Savior at the top. Marriage is ordained to be successful, and as we focus on Christ he draws up the triangle to him. When our marriages are Christ centered, we never slip away from each other. Not because of our willpower but because of our will, and his power.