Saturday, April 25, 2015

Why I Do Tea Ceremony

Today’s coffee: Affogato (espresso poured over vanilla ice cream)

The cherry blossoms came very early this year (pictures forthcoming). I find this rather frustrating: they will probably be gone by next Thursday, when we are scheduled to go on a “hanami” flower-viewing picnic with some friends. So Keith and I will also be doing hanami on Monday. Last year I was flattened with a cold during the entire hanami season, so I’m determined to see some cherry blossoms this year.

This week I had one of those moments that reminded me why I’ve been working so hard at tea ceremony for the last two years… not to mention, why I’m in Japan.

On Tuesday night, I was super tired, but I really didn’t want to give up a rare chance to meet with A, a busy high school student, for Bible study. I had received some advice from a friend: why don’t you share something with her that’s been important to you lately? So I chose Psalm 125, which had been an encouragement in the days following my grandfather’s death. “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.” And for the sake of brevity, as well as introducing a useful spiritual discipline, I decided to do Lectio Divina.

As I gathered resources, I started thinking about ways to calm our hearts to listen to what God is saying through the text. Of course I thought of tea ceremony, which has a calming effect on me, and A seems to like it too. So I gathered up the necessary tools and headed for church.

I explained that I was going to do tea ceremony; A’s eyes sparkled. I invited her to use the time in which I prepared the tea to quiet her heart and give her worries to God. Then I explained briefly the guest’s role: “お点前ちょうだい致します” (otemae choudai itashimasu—thanks for the tea), raise the chawan in a gesture of thanks, turn the chawan clockwise twice, and drink. “Let’s thank God for the tea and ask him to fill us with thankfulness,” I explained.

After we finished our tea, we moved on to Lectio Divina. I can’t say I was really able to explain it well—I was tired—but I think the quietness and peace of the tea ceremony lingered on as we listened together for God’s voice. I don’t know what was going on in A’s heart, but she seemed to gradually relax after her long day at school. I hope that she was able to remember and enjoy the benefits of this precious quiet time free from distractions as she returned to her studies.

This is why I’m studying tea ceremony. This is why I’m in Japan—well, one reason. Please pray with me that the busy, overworked, overtired people around me can find true rest in God.

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