I always tell folks that it takes a long time to grow an old friend. Friendships require time. It takes time to develop the kind of intimacy with someone where you can stand with them in silence and still enjoy the company. Silence, waiting, time and respect for the other’s space are all elements of friendship.
Sometimes the greatest gift we can give someone is our silence. My days are filled with me talking to people in some way, shape, or form. So the greatest gift my wife can give me sometimes is the gift of silence. The time to just be and not have to speak. We can sit next to each other and just be. Even though we may not be speaking a word, the communication is powerful and loving.
A former student of mine once told me about a Chinese proverb that said that the fifth cup of tea between friends is the best. At first, I did not understand, but then she explained. The first cup of tea is normally drunk in a hurry. It is like when we first get together, we have so much we need to say to each other and we can barely wait to get the words out of our mouths.
The second cup, she explained, takes a bit more time to steep because they are the same leaves. The third cup requires even more time. The fifth cup takes the longest amount of time before it has the strength to appreciate. It is this passage of time, this steeping that deepens our friendship.
This brewing takes time. It cannot be disturbed or rushed. The leaves just need to steep in the water to develop into what they were called to be. There needs to be a silence between the water and the leaves.
We are like this with our relationship with the Divine. We need to allow our leaves to steep in the silence of the Great Silence and allow ourselves to be brewed in the deepest of ways.