My passion for tea began when I visited the home of my closest high school friend whose family were Scottish. They drank “real” tea made from whole leaves – no tea bags in their teapots. I learned that there were many varieties of tea, but our favourite was a blend called Murchie’s #10 that combined four different varieties of tea.
When I visit my friend, I am greeted with a warm hug and an invitation –“what about a spot of tea?” Off she goes to the kitchen to put the kettle on. One day, she surprised me.
As usual, the table was set with lovely cups and saucers and an inviting plate of Peak Frean assorted biscuits. However, the usual ceramic teapot was replaced with an elegant glass one. My friend poured boiling water over the unimpressive little brown ball resting on the bottom of the teapot. We sat silently watching as slowly the tea ball opened and released into a lovely lotus flower. It was so magical that we remained silent for a while, in awe of what was unfolding.
Slowly, the hot water released each little green tea leaf from the tightly sewn ball, a little flower emerged in the center of the leaves, and voila, the glass teapot became a flower garden.
The minutes of silence before we began our longed for exchange of news gave this visit a potent openness. Relationships are deepened in that kind of silence, a rare gift in our culture of overwhelming busyness.
This year, the timing of Christmas created what seemed like two weeks of non-stop socializing. Celebration eves, the celebration day, and the tidying up day, all came together in a way that did not allow time for reflection. I have emerged from these two weeks (three at my home) feeling like the tea blossom. Everything I want to share with you this year is tightly bound up like a dry, insignificant-looking green tea ball.
Nevertheless, TheRiverLagan, a ship of good hope, is ready to set out on its journey across the seas. All the little balls of tea blossoms are in their boxes and ready to be loaded onto the ship. There is a mystery, however – I will have to wait until each box arrives at its port of call to discover its contents. Then, with time and the warm water of attention, each flower may bloom.
When I get up in the morning, and I lie in bed waiting for my energy to rise, I think: “What delights might this day have in store for me?” I will be happy to share my discoveries with you as the weeks unfold.
May you have the good fortune to have a friend with whom you can be comfortably silent.