It’s National Tea Day, in addition to it being Easter, so this morning has been especially comforting. Tea, like my (Shannon) own personal faith, is like a warm blanket, though it hasn’t always been that way.
Let’s start with tea–that road isn’t as complicated. I never really appreciated tea until I went on a backpacking trip to Europe, while I was in college. That trip was enlightening on many levels, but the tea service and the art of drinking tea presented itself as not only the norm, but something to set aside time for and enjoy.
Drinking tea is a ritual that is meant to nurture the time spent, the flavor, mindfulness, and being “in the now” – something that is a work in progress for me, every day. I didn’t learn about the many flavors of tea until the end of my time in Europe, Paris, to be exact. Tea rooms are everywhere, and there are thousands of flavors and options available. I felt like I had become a tea connoisseur by the time I was boarding my flight back to the US.
Once I was stateside, I wanted to continue the ritual I had established as the norm in my daily life, but it was more difficult. Finding various tea flavors wasn’t as easy, and in restaurants, the only tea that was available was iced, or a Lipton tea bag. As time goes on, tea is a more prominent aspect of life, and I am able to find loose tea, and other flavors in teabag form, readily available. When I venture to a new city, I always look for the local tea room and make a date with myself to have afternoon tea. No longer a novelty, tea time is a part of my daily life, as I make time for it, every single day.
Faith is very similar to my life. Without writing a novel here, I’ll just say that I have lacked faith in my life, and I have been in a transition mode of my devotion to religion in the past few years. I saw my parents ostracized from their church as young parents for getting pregnant and not living up to what the church wanted for them-just when they needed the support of their church and the congregation. That left a bitter taste in my mouth about not only organized religion but God himself. In recent years, despite having a belief in God, I spent time seeing my loss and hardships as punishment and thought of how warped religion and God is to create such negativity in my life until I turned that around and decided to dedicate myself to trying to find my faith. I’ve always wanted to have the blind faith my grandmother had, never faltering in her devotion to God, never doubting his word. I’ve worked on my relationship with God like it’s my job because frankly, I need it. I need that comfort, that warm blanket feels that I know faith can have. When my grandmother passed away in 2013, I asked to have her Bible. It was worn and tattered because she used it every day. She wrote on almost every page. I adore seeing her adoration and dedication to the words she read and love seeing her thoughts in the notes written in the margins.
Faith is now, something that is becoming ritualistic as I create time for devotion every day. Prayer, and being mindful of my faith as I doubt myself and life, come forth at various times during the day. I also have found that I appreciate other religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, and the peace that both bring to their followers. My love for animals and vegetarianism is reflected by my alignment to the beliefs of both of those religions.
Working at it, both faith and creating rituals such as tea time and devotional time, helps me to be more mindful and “in the now” with creating warmth and peace in my life. This Easter morning, I had my warm tea, and read my devotion, thinking about how fortunate I am for the life that I’ve created, or was created for me.