It came into my life three years ago, a gift from my husband. Claimed from among a ragged family of fiestaware at an antique store. And like the friskiest puppy in the litter, it called out: pick me, pick me!
“A real find,” Dave proclaimed, after I’d unwrapped it.
Yes indeed, a treasure. Nary a scrape or scratch, save for a slight blemish on the knob of the lid. I wouldn’t even have noticed it if Dave hadn’t pointed it out, and I loved it immediately.
But not just for its looks. Or the image in my mind of Dave haunting local antique stores (not necessarily his favorite thing to do) in his quest to bring me this perfect present. As wonderful as those things were (and are), I also loved it because it spoke to me about my life. It said:
Use me, Patty. That’s what I’m for. Take me off the shelf and enjoy me. I’m here to open the door to a new experience.
I imagined an experience that consciously added meaning to my life by stopping each day to center myself with a pot of tea. Where I truly lived during this in-between space, rather than frittering it away on distractions and mindless amusements.
Alas, it was not to be. Even though I’ve always loved the idea of tea – everything from the British custom of afternoon tea to the beautiful artistry of the Japanese tea ceremony – the little pot stayed on its perch most of the time.
Looking good, for sure.
But silent. And pining to be filled with hot water and aromatic tea.
Until a few weeks ago, that is. Because after I wrote about Kung Pao’s affinity for rituals, I realized that it was high time I got on with it: no more shilly shallying!
And now, I’m loving my personal tea time ritual. Around about 5:00 each afternoon, if I’m home, I fill the kettle. I like the feel of its increasing heft as the water flows in.
After I set it on the burner, I grab the teapot and tea. Nothing fancy, just Trader Joe’s Earl Grey. I choose a cup, most often persimmon colored, because I like the contrast with the turquoise of the pot.
While I’m anticipating the soon-to-be steam that will rise from the kettle’s spout, I go about gathering a few necessary partners for my tea: fruit, perhaps a handful of nuts, maybe even a square of chocolate.
Finally, the moment arrives! The water squeals its readiness to me, and I splash a cup or so into the waiting pot, gently swirling it around to ensure tea of just the right temperature. After a few seconds, out goes that first splash, in goes the tea, then a fresh dose of hot water almost all the way to the top.
And surprisingly, here’s one of my favorite parts. Wrapping the pot in a well worn dish towel, kind of a like placing a little shawl on its shoulders to keep it warm.
Once the tea has steeped, I’m almost there. I fill my cup with the piping hot liquid, giving it a sprinkle of sugar and a whisper of milk for good measure. And as I carry my cup to the table, I cradle its warmth in my hands. Smell its flavor even before I taste it.
THEN TASTE IT I DO. AH. BLISS
What I’ve discovered these past few weeks is that the making of the tea is as pleasurable as the drinking of the tea. A full-on sensory experience, from start to finish, that’s becoming a body memory for me.
And as joyful as this is, there’s more. Something I hadn’t bargained for. Something that taps into one of our most elemental human needs. The need to be welcomed. To be greeted upon arrival.
You know how it is when you walk through the door and someone’s already there? When they stop what they’re doing, notice you, say something? And depending on the relationship, maybe they offer you a warm embrace and a sweet kiss?
Even animals do it. In my home, I see that acknowledgment play out every time one cat passes another. A quick touch of noses. Hello. Good to see you.
Well, we need that too. Of course, I know we don’t always get it. Sometimes we live alone. Or arrive first. Or the person waiting doesn’t look up.
So at its simplest, my tea making has become a kind of greeting that I give myself. A cheerful hug to look forward to each day.
But at a more complex level, it has changed things for my husband and me. Because when Dave rolls in at 6:00 PM, not only do I give him a hug and a kiss, but now I ask, “would you like some tea?” It’s still warm in the pot, and I’m ready for a second cup. And as we sit down to exchange notes about our day, I understand implicitly that two cups of tea is just right.
How about you? What kind of small meaning making have you been up to lately? You know I want to hear about it!
(By the way, if you’re wondering what the heck Meaning Monday is about, click here for the full story. And if you’re ready to fire up the meaning in your own life, go visit Belinda at the Halfway Point. Her post about simple things that add meaning to everyday, is, quite simply, beautiful.)
WHY NOT START NOW?