Tea and spirituality



“Do you take coffee or tea?”  Some people are firmly in one camp or the other, but I believe in the power of both.   If I want to get out the door in the morning, I rely on a commuter mug of joe,  but if I want to take a quiet reflective pause in the evening, I put on the teakettle.

I guess it’s fair to say that coffee fuels my body, but tea fuels my soul.

Tea and prayer really are a perfect pairing.   Something about this drink seems to invite and create a powerful, contemplative frame of mind.  I think there are a few reasons for this.

1) Brewing tea is a ritual, and I’m big on those when it comes to prayer.  Filling the kettle, plunking it on the burner, hearing the catch of the gas as it lights, picking a teabag from my extensive collection (my husband wonders how I can possibly have a whole shelf devoted to tea), waiting for the whistle, pouring the hot water and watching the water turn to amber … it’s something I know by heart.  In all the things life throws at me (Sick kid! Big change at work!  Car trouble!), it is lovely to have a constant.

It’s one of the reasons I love the Mass, in fact.  We need some things to be as familiar as breathing.

2) Tea makes you slow down.  You can’t gulp it; it’s not Gatorade or beer.  You have to sip it at a leisurely pace, especially if you take it black as I do, without the cooling properties of milk.  You can’t rush a cup of tea, and since life makes me rush almost everything else, I love this forced pause.

Pret-tea tin, isn't it?  (the taste is amazing, too)

Pret-tea tin, isn’t it? (the taste is amazing, too)

3) Tea involves the meeting of multiple senses.  There’s the sound of the boiling teakettle.  There’s the heat of the cup in my hands.  There is the fragrance curling up to my nose.  There is the taste of the tea on my tongue.  There’s the gradual darkening of the tea as I steep it.  Sometimes there is even the visual feast of a floral teacup or a particularly pretty kind of tea packaging.  And savoring  these senses is a potent prayer to the One who gave them to us in the first place.

But enough writing;   I’m going to put the kettle on.  Care to join me?

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