Kin ~ My Journey with Tea
The truth about my very first journey with tea is not romantic and poetic at all. In fact, the first time I sat to a tea meditation I became agitated, frustrated and annoyed. It was four years ago and my dear sister Tien Wu had invited me to her Venice abode for a ceremony. My monkey mind was wrestling with my spirit not unlike a crocodile in a muddy swamp trying to swallow a dove. That day the crocodile ate the dove in one gulp. I decided I wouldn’t be sitting for ‘tea’ again any time soon. Until. Until one month later when there was an event at my home where Tien Wu was serving again. This time however, this time, the dove flew towards the divine light of tea and made the crocodile docile and tame. This time my spirit was stronger than my ego monkey mind, and it began to respond and listen. This time I sat, I became quiet, and allowed the tears to stream down into pools of lost resistance unto my lab. This time the thought that swirled in my mind, as the steam from my cup swirled unto my wet face, was ahhh ‘you are safe. You are home.’ This time I didn’t feel the defenses of loneliness. This time I felt a kinship with the tea, a kinship with the ones I was drinking with, a kinship with spirit. You see for me who has the nature of a hummingbird, being still is a luxury. I care for many creatures, and have many responsibilities. To have permission to be still, to rest my mind, to be nourished by tea without having to give anything back, this all seemed so foreign. I now have come to see that being still, and simply receiving is what I needed to learn. This is also about accepting our feminine natures since the feminine is about being present, being open, being receptive.
Tea has now become a way of life for me. I remember Tien once told me that tea is an adaptogen and can relate to us in whatever way we need. This is the way I see her now. Pouring water unto the leaves and seeing them unfurl can lead to whatever medicine I need in that moment. A fatherly nudge, that may be the paternal strength I crave. A maternal, gentle, softness that’s carried on the wind as I am brewing the tea. A childlike wonder at the sounds of crickets, birds, and frogs that seem to get louder and louder with every cup. Seeing the greenness around me become greener, become more vivid, more awake, with every sip. Feeling an opening where I can handle more of what life offers me the good, the bad, and the challenging, that container expanding as my heart and spirit expands.
On a recent life changing trip to China with Global Tea Hut, I remember Wu De saying the smaller the doubt the smaller the awakening. The larger the doubt the larger the awakening. I am grateful now for having that large doubt when I first began. I had to earn this relationship with tea and with my deepening practice. I am forever grateful to Tien Wu and Wu De for creating these spaces for us to gently grow.
Part of this great awakening is connecting with the beautiful spirits around the world that share this practice. Knowing we are all connecting through tea makes this a shared practice. In this way we have witnesses to the beauty that unfolds for us. In this way we are kin. In this way we are a family, always even when miles are between us.