Thursday, February 27, 2014

Time to listen and think

Today’s coffees: kona blend, kona not blend

I’m at Tokumitsu while Keith is at home writing his talk for tomorrow’s ochakai (Japanese tea party). He’s been thinking about it for weeks, but writing it now that it’s down to the wire…

My preparations are mostly complete; I’ve practiced my role as the host of the ochakai several times, with several friends receiving our hospitality. All that’s left is to pack up my tools, put on my kimono in the morning, and head over to the church.

Over the last few weeks, with many opportunities to deepen our understanding and appreciation of tea ceremony, I’ve also been thinking about rest. I’ve struggled with my own tiredness as I deal with life in my second language; I am often surprised to discover that a task in Japanese takes twice as long and twice as much effort and the exact same task in English. I feel unproductive, even lazy, as I need more rest than my Japanese friends, and yet I have little to show for my hard work.

But do I really “need” more rest than my friends? I think maybe the problem is not so much that I need more rest as that my friends need more rest than they are getting. The students in the youth group at church look just as exhausted as we do—between studying and sports clubs and constant pressure, even during school holidays, there’s no time for them to relax, rest, play, and think. Even Sundays at church can be very busy.

I make weekly trips… well, almost weekly trips to Tokumitsu because I need time to think and reflect on my life, and this is a time and place where I can do that. Tea ceremony lessons gives me a different sort of opportunity—a chance to be quiet, to spend time with friends, and to take in beauty and peace with all five senses. To me, both of these routines are 心の癒し (kokoro no iyashi—healing of the heart). If my mind is overly busy, I can’t hear God’s voice. I need intentional times and places and activities which give me the opportunity to stop and listen.

We’ve been talking about rest with the youth group and in other contexts as well. Resting and trusting in God’s care and provision seem to be an important theme in my life at the moment. I hope that as I think about these things, I can find ways to invite those around me to rest and trust as well. Somehow I think tea ceremony has a role to play.

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