For the last 10 days, I have been moving through this virus, which attacked the vocal chords of our family. According to our physician, we should do two things: get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Along with the viral laryngitis, I also developed a head cold and congestion. Listening to our physician, we made sure we allowed our bodies to rest, but we also drank plenty of fluids. My favorite has been tea.
One of the things I love about a hot cup of tea is that you cannot drink a hot cup of tea in a hurry. As Thich Nhat Hanh advised, "Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” With each sip, I could feel the warm fluid coating my vocal chords with healing energy and melting the congestion in my nose and throat. It has been the first thing I drink in the morning and the last thing I drink at night and I have been putting a thermal cup of hot tea on my nightstand so I can sip on it during the night whenever my throat begins to feel dry. It always leaves my throat feeling loved and nurtured. It reminds me of how I felt as a child when my mother would cover me up and tuck me in when I was sick.
Drinking tea, however, is more then comforting, it is also spiritual and there is a sense of reverence, which comes with it. This morning, as I watched a Japanese Tea Ceremony, I was struck by the reverence with which everything is done, from the preparation of the materials, to the preparing of the tea, every aspect of the service is performed with the highest sense of reverence. It is not just the drinking of it was which was done slowly and reverently, but every step of the ceremony and the process behind it. As I watched one of the videos, I found myself thinking how much this paralleled the way Communion is so often served in the Christian church. For example, there was one scene where the man symbolically washes his hands in a small basin. Kneeling, he holds the tea vessel up above his head in a prayer of thanksgiving. He bows down. His companion bows lower, leans toward him. He straightens up and drinks the tea in one act. When he is finished, he carefully wipes the rim clean.
As I watched him, I found myself remembering the last time I served communion. It gave me a new appreciation and reverence for the time, which has been so healing and life giving for me these last several days. So this morning, as I am writing these words and sipping on my tea, I am ever mindful of all those who have given so that I might be blessed this morning. With each sip, I remember the plants and herbs who offered up their leaves and foliage so that my body might become healed. This leads me to give thanks to the Infinite who continues to bless me and keep me, and has led us to understand the healing power of the plants and foliage created for us in the beginning.
As I sit in my modern kitchen, with several boxes of tea bags, I am now thinking I should create my own personal tea ceremony as I prepare my cup and tea and reverently sip on this warm and healing fluid and give thanks. When we sip our tea with intentionality and reverence, it becomes more then just a cup of tea; it becomes a moment to be one with the world as it is at that moment.