“Always Time for Tea” is the title of the above rendering. Tea Time in March is charged with anticipation, excited about change, and zesty with the invigoration of fiercely raging wind and ever-stretching sunlit hours.
Today’s wind is not kind; it’s raw and bitter to the taste, like afternoon Earl Grey Tea when it’s been allowed to over-steep. Today’s sun is glorious—redolent of fragrant places where ripe and mellow leaves were harvested for an “Irish Breakfast” most anywhere in the world.
Along with the joy of anticipation, my St. Patrick’s Day Irish Breakfast musings (in Nashotah, Wisconsin, USA) are shadowed by things that are lost: a Malaysian jet carrying over 200 passengers, and perhaps millions of people in our culture who haven’t even the faintest comprehension of the importance of solitude—or whose once-valued serenity has gone missing.
How many of us are there left in this crazy culture, who still understand (and prioritize!) the serenity of spending time alone/alone/alone. I don’t mean always being physically alone/alone/alone. I speak of mentally/spiritually/emotionally investing time alone and nurturing that soul solitude and serenity which can only come from a depth of completion—the integral completion which we can receive from God’s Grace through the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in one’s life as revealed in Scripture.
How many individuals still treasure time alone: perhaps really alone for a few hours or minutes—strolling in a sheltered woods, basking in a sunny window, lounging on the patio in the summer—with the ubiquitous iced tea (Earl Grey or Irish Breakfast) in hand? Alone in one’s mind, unfettered by the worries and potential issues that surround anyone who is breathing and thinking?
Alone. Apart. Soothed by the realization that the heartbreaking issues of the day are a bleep in Eternity. Solitude, serenity, ALONENESS! Busy schedules have been common to much of mankind since the beginning of time. But today life can become even more complex, if we so allow. In an age of electronic communications and the proliferation of Facebook friends, how many remember the concept of being alone? And how many even care, or have the foggiest idea of what they are missing?
I love my laptop for shopping, acquiring information, and blogging. These are refreshing pastimes. How wonderful to shop without driving to a store where you may or may not find exactly what you want—be it a special garment (most of my clothing is purchased online), a sable paint brush, a new-to-you line of watercolors or gouche in exciting colors, or the base and fragrance oils for your soap-making avocation. How rewarding to be able to access an endless library of answers in your ongoing quest for learning. And how fulfilling to communicate via a blog with people from literally every corner of the earth.
But certain other aspects of the electronic world would quickly threaten to undermine my serenity, if I would fail to preserve a balance—and those specific aspects are email and Facebook. Email has become a kind of necessity in the minds of many, and for business purposes and the sharing of prayer requests it is indeed valuable. Facebook serves one and only one purpose for me: that of viewing and sometimes downloading charming photos of the people in my life. But balance and frequent avoidance of both of these computer areas are necessary to my discipline of preserving serenity and an atmosphere of solitude in the midst of an overflowing life filled with precious people and their needs. Thus I will often go for at least a week without checking either Facebook or my email. Anyone who really needs me will find me via telephone or snail mail—or best of all, with a knock on my door.
Today I pray that someone among the 26 participating rescue nations will discover the missing jet. Every day I pray that I’ll remember to savor as many serenity-inspiring sights and sounds as I can find, with which to greet each day: and certainly always before accessing email or Facebook.
A pot of tea helps, whether celebrated alone or shared with a kindred soul. There’s always time for tea!
Margaret L. Been, March 2014