February 12 – Making Tea – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“Given sincerity, there will be enlightenment.” The Doctrine of The Mean, 200 B.C.E.

If we truly stop to consider it, making tea is a miraculous process. First, small leaves are gathered from plants that grow from unseen roots. Then boiling water is drained through the dried leaves. Finally, allowing the mixture to steep creates an elixir that, when digested, can be healing.

The whole process is a model for how to make inner use of our daily experience. For isn’t making tea the way we cipher through the events of our lives? Isn’t the work of sincerity to pour our deepest attention over the dried bits of our days?  Isn’t patience the need to let the mixture of inner and outer brew until the lessons are fragrant and soothing on the throat?  Isn’t it the heat of our sincerity that steams the lessons out of living? Isn’t it the heart of those lessons that makes us sip them slowly?

Yet perhaps the most revealing thing about all this is that none of these elements alone can produce tea. Likewise, only by using them together, can we make tea of our days and our sincerity and our patience. And none of it is healing without a willingness to drink from the tea of life.

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