For some reason, I became a hot tea drinker my freshman year in college. My Southern family’s mealtime beverage preference was always for iced tea, but no one I knew drank hot tea. I had a Hot Pot for my dorm room and it was easy to keep tea bags in my room for a bedtime cup. Far from being troubled by the caffeine, I am soothed & calmed by the ritual of tea-making, as much as by the warmth of the mug. I enjoy classic varieties of tea -Ceylon, Darjeeling- but have never developed a taste for herbals. I use a tiny bit of sugar, but no lemon or milk.
I recently read a passage from the book “Miracle at Speedy Motors,” by Alexander McCall Smith, that greatly appeals to me, as a daily schedule:
“They were always having tea, as far as he could work out. There was the first cup, served shortly after they arrived in the office in the morning, and then there was the ten o’clock cup, which was sometimes taken at nine-thirty in the hot weather. That was followed by the tea which was brewed at eleven-thirty (the mid-morning tea), and of course there was tea immediately after lunch and again at three in the afternoon.”
My family is kind about my obsession (although my sister once remarked that I would enjoy swamp-water if told it was tea!) For Mother’s Day this year, my daughter, Hannah, sent me a small clay teapot modeled to resemble a brown & tan mushroom. She also sent two packages of loose Earl Grey tea (my favorite.) The teapot came with brewing instructions, which included a strict injunction to always use Earl Grey. Apparently, there is a danger of the teapot becoming “muddled” if teas are mixed.
I find I can be quite like that teapot. Reading from 1 Peter 1:16, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” reminds me that I am set apart, consecrated to God for His purposes and His use. I must keep my gaze on God, not allowing distractions, lest I become “muddled.” The Rule, Chapter 1, describes the Kinds of Monastics. Clearly, Benedict recommends the cenobites who serve under a rule, who cultivate self-control and discipline in their attitudes and actions, who live in awareness of being God’s vessels, who yield their purposes to Him. We are made holy by God’s choosing us, singling us out for service, which can be humble or lofty according to His purposes.
My childhood singing of “I’m a Little Teapot” is ringing in my ears today.