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Friday, July 26, 2013

Hospitalitea



The essence of preparing for a tea is a celebration of sorts.  Tea is a pleasure acquired by choice. It is a way to indulge in harmony because it beckons sincere conversation.  A lot of understanding is steepened over tea.
My dearest friend, Jeannette, and Tea Pots...
Two proper tea cups will do, four or more invite added conversation, and the outpour of black or green tea from the pot, serves sensible sips to be savored along subjects of the heart that really matter.  Ladies and gentlemen gathered to share a designed moment for tea time, recall them privately.  That is the point of joining with others for the ceremony of tea.


And, when we take sitting down seriously to partake in tea, I like to quote Charles Dickens : "To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature.  I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart."  This is precisely how I feel about tea time with friends or family.  In general, we converse of happy things to lift all hearts though  I have heard heavy burdens sipping tea with tears.   It is indiscreet to be offended by a friend's discreet confession of a sorrow.  The mere gift of time to chat over tea gives way to a comfort not forgotten.  It is more than something to do.  It is something to think about when it is happening.
Setting a table is a welcome sign of love...
So, how did my dream of having a tea room where quiet chatter laced with whimsical laughter begin?  I think it was like the steeple I overlooked since childhood as I scurried until the need to give what I could knocked at my door.
Tea time is an exercise I wish I had started with my four sons at an early age, back when I could have fluttered their magic imaginations with smiles and kisses.  I simply did not consider it for boys.
Fortunately, however, soon after we moved to Maui in 1992, God granted our two "kiddles in the middle" a friend whose Mom, Mrs. Thomas, sweetly scheduled time for tea in the mid of their play, mid afternoon.  Well, not the kind in tea rooms, but nonetheless a break from the trampoline romp for a revitalization of spirits with water and treats.  She called it "tea time".  One of their happiest childhood memories will always be treasured in the company of a friend whose Mom called them in for tea.  This is a priceless gift for you to share with others as well.
And so, soon thereafter, when the school our oldest son attended, asked parents to volunteer for their annual fund raiser or donate money towards its success, I offered a High Tea in our home.  The mere idea surprised me.  That was the beginning of the tea room  dream: My Friend's Tea Room.  I can assure you dreams evolve with careful planning, but the ground had been also tilled in my own upbringing and then seeded by the parent of a boy my sons called their best friend.
My Mom's wood-burned table laden with sweets


I began to create favors called Prayer Pockets.  With a sheet of paper folded twice so open it had three sections, I positioned a picture of an angel pointing upwards towards where my dear friend Jeannette labeled "Everything will be All Right,"in the center fold.   After printing as many as were needed, I taped the back and bottom to form the Prayer Pockets.  Inside each one, I tucked two index cards, one with a favorite quote, and a blank one for the receiver to use privately at a later date to write a prayer, a wish or a dream.  As the guests chose their seats, I suggested they read the quote in the Prayer Pocket to themselves, and be prepared to either share it during tea time or tell how it relates to their lives.  It was a satisfying endeavor as everyone searched to discover their assignment.
 
Let me reassure you of this: hearts open like the floodgates of heaven in the cozy of trust.  The stories poured.  Cream for some.  A sugar cube, or nude (as a Russian lady surprisingly said once), or a dab of honey, reflected personal preferences in taste and that without judgement.   I served homemade scones and mini sandwiches... Each prepared with love was, and still is, my ultimate gift for friends and family.  I noticed eyes of all ages dance from cup to cup, and lips lick savory tea treats.  I witnessed words appear as if freshly written on wet sand.  The company of two, four or more was and still is an inspiration for "hospitali-tea".
With her dearest Marguerite...their treat for me
My dearest friend, Susan...on Oahu...

   The mere preparation for sharing tea time with another evokes presence.

...I was invited to tea on Oahu while visiting son#3, as he introduces himself...    

Doesn't awareness have a whisper of divinity?  It's as free as the air we breathe....
I chime with Chaim Potok who so tenderly said,"Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things"...





Monday, July 15, 2013

As Dusk Shades Appear

It is the beginning of the evening. Some cooing and chirps call for feathered tweeters to settle on branches and are slowly more sparsely heard from afar; nearby, some flutters ruffle the monkey pod tree leaves good night.  The palms barely sway to wave the breeze gone by.


Shoulder to shoulder at rest...
 Upcountry the island is quiet and tonight I feel the ache of an imminent goodbye. Gazing down the mountain, I whisper: farewell Aloha State. Makena's sandy beach captured my heart with a feast of its daily blue, turquoise buffet of colors majestically present in a God given portrait.
Dear second cousin, Nick... 
 I say farewell greenery splashed with peach,pink, purple, yellow, red, white, and blue blooms.

 In Hawaii lives a favored paradise on earth where people like you and me, imperfect humans, strive like all others, all over the world, to survive.  To have missed a day of its splendor is by choice.  No matter what troubles fall upon us, God cuddles us with intricately designed flowers, fruits and herbs.  Even the weeds appear too pretty to pluck from the rich soil.  When the sun glimmers on these, unnamed hues appear, and heaven is nearer than I thought, I think.
 Here days and months feel like reflective moments in time when we come to know much of what we wished to have known from birth. The island overflows with love. However, its devilishness slithers because it is after all a place on earth inhabited by us, humans. To weigh the good against the bad upon God's scale, no doubt lifts us as better than bad because to live Aloha is more than a greeting. Aloha becomes us. As I feel we may be leaving, I pray Maui,in the shape of a woman's profile, be kept serene, be safe from thievery, corruption, and misguided beliefs. May its people wake each morning grateful for its pristine land, the aina, that bears fruits and vegetables fit for all its royal folks. May its people remember to thank God. It seems obvious that living here is a blessing bestowed by our Almighty. Whether born here or not, being a part of this community invites cooperation to serve our best character. Friends,family, and acquaintances are always excited to meet in a store. The reunion is cause for chit chat and laughter. I regard the meetings heart handshakes. I pray all lessons learned can appease us and others. As dusk shades appear to blanket the parade of foliage and flowers in our garden, I pray the stars that light the sky so brightly tonight, remain in my heart as the light of God I saw in the people of Maui. Mahalo means Thank you... Aloha means love, welcome, hello, and good bye... Maui No Ka Oi...Maui, we are the best...