#InternationalTeaDay

Today is International Tea Day. In the midst of hard and sad news, this somehow made my day. Call it superficial or shallow, but I think life is always better with a cup of tea.

While coffee gives me the zip to start the day, tea helps me to finish it. Tea means friends and family. Tea means rest and calm. Tea means home and hope, and oh how we need both of those.

So I celebrate this day by reposting a piece from a year and a half ago.

Thank God for Tea

I was raised on tea. From early in life the day could be marked by two things: the call to prayer and tea time.

At home it was morning tea with breakfast, and afternoon tea with Nice or Digestive biscuits. At school it was robust desi chai that made up for the terrible boarding school food.

No matter the day everything felt better after you had tea.

And then I had my own family. And I learned that you had to create this time, you had to make time to have tea. It didn’t just happen. And so we did.

For years, beginning in early fall, when twilight comes early and the golden glow of autumn colors our world, we begin to have evening tea time. We continue tea time until the end of spring comes and with it, long days that stretch and make you think time has stopped.

Just like growing up, tea is a ritual that marks the day.

Around 9 pm, whoever is in the house at the time gathers and we drink tea out of sturdy mugs. It could be Earl Grey tea with its oil of bergamot distinctive flavor. It could be mint tea. It could be regular– which for us means a strong Irish Breakfast tea. It could be a fruity passion tea. No matter the kind, it’s tea and we are gathered together.

The day could have held sorrow or joy, tears or anger, frustration or impatience — or perhaps all of those things. We still gather for tea.

And so I love this picture, taken at our cottage in Rockport. And I love the quote on the picture as well. Because something remarkable happens when you sit down for a cup of tea.

Here are some of my favorite quotes on tea:

  1. Tea! Bless ordinary everyday afternoon tea! Agatha Christie
  2. You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. C.S. Lewis
  3. Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage. Catherine Douzel
  4. Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first? Peter Pan

Thanks so much for being a part of Communicating Across Boundaries and today may you have the joy of drinking tea.

Photo courtesy of Stefanie Sevim Gardner/Word art by Marilyn Gardner

Thank God for Tea!

Thank God for Tea

I was raised on tea. From early in life the day could be marked by two things : the call to prayer and tea time.

At home it was morning tea with breakfast and afternoon tea with Nice or Digestive biscuits. At school it was robust desi chai that made up for the terrible boarding school food.

No matter the day everything felt better after you had tea.

And then I had my own family.

Beginning in early fall, when twilight comes early and the golden glow of autumn colors our world, we begin to have evening tea time.

Just like growing up, tea is a ritual that marks the day.

Around 9 pm, whoever is in the house at the time gathers and we drink tea out of sturdy mugs. It could be Earl Grey tea with its oil of bergamot distinctive flavor. It could be mint tea. It could be regular– which for us means a strong Irish Breakfast tea. It could be a fruity passion tea. No matter the kind it’s tea and we are gathered together.

The day could have held sorrow or joy, tears or anger, frustration or impatience — or perhaps all of those things. We still gather for tea.

And so I love this picture, taken at our cottage in Rockport. And I love the quote on the picture as well. Because something remarkable happens when you sit down for a cup of tea.

Thanks so much for being a part of Communicating Across Boundaries and today may you have the joy of drinking tea.

Photo courtesy of Stefanie Sevim Gardner/Word art by Marilyn Gardner

“My Weary Wheels Need a Rest”

LightbulbAfter an outing that included a hike up a hill, my brother’s grandson, David, remarked to my sister-in-law “Grandma, my weary wheels need a rest!”.

These words from a not quite three-year old. Wisdom indeed!

It’s how I feel. My weary wheels need a rest. Sickness has crowded out our energy and sucked up the fresh smell of pine and cinnamon. Tiredness and uncertainty have camped out in our living space. We can’t keep up with tea and Tylenol.

Snow came last night and so the world outside is a white wonderland. And we’re giving ourselves permission to just ‘be’.

In a society that judges worth by occupation and productivity, letting our weary wheels rest isn’t easy. Sometimes it takes a fever to knock us down, force us to our  couches, our knees…and to our moms.

And it was my mom that reminded me of Isaiah 40. The title says it all “Comfort for God’s People.” The words are a comfort for weary wheels.

Today, if your weary wheels need a rest, sit down, put your feet up and read Isaiah 40. 

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

When Home is not Muffins and Tea

Chocolate chip muffins baking in an oven

“I almost missed my bus! I am exhausted and so ready for home” was the text from our fourth child, Stefanie, a few days before a break. Stefanie is in her first year of college in New York City. She has navigated her first year well, but she is tired. I sent back a text “Home is ready with muffins and tea.”

And it was. Muffins and tea represented the warmth and comfort that were waiting for her. That one phrase said “Come in and leave your troubles outside the door, at least for a time, while you relax and are cared for”. There are those times in life where we desperately need to be cared for, to have someone who erases the responsibilities of our lives and replaces them with those things that signify comfort and rest. That is what home is supposed to be.

But because this world is not as it should be, for many home is not muffins and tea. It is a place of pain and tension. A place that signifies anything but rest and instead of being a place to escape to, it is a place where you want to escape ‘from’. For those who have experienced that kind of pain from those closest to them, my words above don’t make sense. Instead, they are like the words of a Polyanna who sees life through a lens that hasn’t experienced real-life.  Home is nothing like muffins and tea – pictures of warmth and grace.

From the beginning of time we have a picture of what life is like with healthy relationships and what life is like without. In the Garden of Eden we have a picture of a home with all the beauty imaginable, fresh fruits and vegetables, comfort and communion. And then we have a picture of what it was like to lose that home; to not know the beauty, the comfort and, worst of all, the communion. The perfect relationship was marred and communion with God underwent a change that would affect every man, woman and child who was ever to live and walk this life. Home was no longer “muffins and tea”.

The redemptive piece of this is that even in our brokenness and flawed understanding, we can help create homes that welcome, not only our own families, but those who are outside of our families. Those that desperately need the warmth of home but don’t have it. The redemptive process can be seen through something as simple and as profound as muffins and tea.

Reader Response: Tea and Soul Care


Tea matters
. The responses from readers on tea gave personal pictures from Laos to Pakistan to South Africa of what tea means and why tea matters. All the comments were rich with memory and feeling, but I’ve picked one that spoke to my soul today. It’s one of the reasons I love blogging – I am the recipient of wisdom and challenges through reader comments. I have turned this one comment into a post and pray that it will speak to your soul the way it spoke to mine.“Tea and Soul Care”  is penned by Ruthie McCurry Dutton, a former class mate from Murree. We reconnected this past year through Facebook and blogging and it makes me want to see her again in person and share a cup of tea.  Ruthie has lived a nomadic life and offers a glimpse of her life in this piece.

Tea–my “go-to” for every occasion and metaphor for qualities that I find important. Tea meant comfort and happiness in my early memories of Pakistan: sweet and milky, sitting in my beloved nanny’s lap; a strong brew capping off my first exciting day at boarding school; the mad rush at break, when I was finally old enough to get my tea from the hole-in-the-wall stall across the road.

As a newly married bride, my mother-in-law introduced me to ritual and reverence through the very rare occasions when we used her exquisite collection of bone china cups. We carefully warmed the pot while boiling the water. We added just the right amount of leaves and waited patiently for it to steep. Aaaah….the perfect cup.

When life and ministry took me to the frontiers of Laos, I traded delicate cups for floral- patterned china mugs each one unique. They reminded me to look for the beauty all around me—be it the landscape or in the variety of people with whom I shared a cup. Each person and scene had a beauty of their own to be savored and appreciated.

In my newly nomadic life, a delicate china mug accompanies me. I love sipping from it as I share the pre-dawn hours with Jesus. This delicate mug, so easily chipped, reminds me of the importance of soul care. Each reverent sip is an in-pouring of the Holy Spirit, a source of strength for what my day brings. Now, instead of my beloved nanny, I feel the warm embrace of Abba Father.

Crossing both the globe and the span of time tea remains my constant companion, its symbolism and meaning growing and changing. For today it means warmth and comfort, sacred ritual, unique beauty, and God’s goodness. Life is richer over a cup of tea.

“I’m Glad I Was Not Born Before Tea!”

For the Love of Tea and Moms

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? how did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea.

Tea is available in abundance in our home and in the homes of many of my extended family. When we arrive at each other’s houses, we have tea. When we get up in the morning, we have tea. Afternoon? We have tea. After dinner? Tea. When we’re happy, we have tea. When we’re sad, we have even more tea. When we’re angry – you guessed it, we have tea.

Memories of tea and tea parties are many, but one favorite comes from when our children were little and we had traveled from Boston to Cairo after a vacation in the US. We were experiencing full-on jet lag and 3am Cairo time had all of us up and wandering the fifth floor walk-up apartment that we were living in on the island of Zamalek. What did we do? We had a Jet Lag Tea Party. It was the perfect solution.

We come by this love of tea honestly. There is no physical way to avoid tea in the subcontinent. It was, and is, integrated into all of life in Pakistan. During my last time in Pakistan, in the middle of treating patients for malaria and malnutrition, in temporary tent-like spaces with temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, we were served hot chai (tea). It was made from strong Lipton gold, with a heavy dose of sugar and full cream buffalo milk, and served every day around 11 in the morning.  It was an amazing act of hospitality from people who had almost nothing and were picking up the pieces after the devastating floods that came over villages and towns. Why did they do this? Because they are hospitable and tea is a way of illustrating this kindness. Because they couldn’t imagine us going all morning without tea!

For me the tea was symbolic that we could go on. We could move forward and do the job we had to do. And that’s what tea has been in my life. You allow yourself the luxury and healing of tears, you have a cup of tea, whether it’s regular, mint or vanilla rooibos, and then you continue to face whatever there is to face. Sometimes it’s as helpful as an hour counseling session, only cheaper.

This week I received the card above from my younger daughter, Stefanie. Made of the wrappers of tea bags, it was a perfect sentiment of two of my loves and two of hers: Tea and Moms!

What about you? Are you a tea lover? Did you grow up with tea or was it an adult pleasure? Join in through the comment section.

And a Happy Weekend to you! May you have the luxury of enjoying a pot of tea!