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If you could have a cup of tea with anyone…

 If you could share a cup of tea with anyone, who would you choose? I read this question recently in an article from the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada. Interestingly enough, around the same time, I was going through a binder of stories and poems I had written once upon a time when sadness prevailed as the #1 emotion in my life.

It was a healing time when sadness overwhelmed me and upon advice of my therapist I was journaling a lot. Now, several years later, I recognize with this poem written 11 years ago, just how much a cup of tea played a big part as a go-to comfort. I would and still do find a cup of tea with myself to be pretty special!

But the following poem also spoke to me anew as to how much I wondered what others were going through with the experiences in their lives. I contemplated how the person I passed at the grocery store might be hiding their pain. Was that man on the phone at the airport hurting because of his loss? Were people in church raising their voices in praise to overcome their sadness?

I was intensely aware that I was not alone. I remember watching a man, a street sweeper from my second-floor verandah. He was a methodical employee of Charlottetown, fulfilling a practical need. He was not a machine. He lived and breathed life. As I read this poem after years of it being stored in a binder on my closet shelf, a frisson of excitement caused my heart to skip a beat! I'd like to share it with you.


Street Sweeper

Street Sweeper
Are you aware I’m watching you, as if on cue?
It’s all about the job for you
While I just sit and drink my tea
And wonder what you’re thinking.
Street sweeper
Are you all alone at night and losing sight
Of any hope of meaning,
While I just sit and drink my tea
And wonder why I’m drifting?
Street sweeper,
Are you brushing to a certain tune, an endless swoon
Of settling dirt, not good for you?
While I, perplexed, just sit and drink my tea,
My will lost to your sweeping.
Ah, street sweeper,
Old memories sleep, now settled in the dust you heap
Into a pile on aging streets
Named after honoured men.
They keep your heart from dying.
Street sweeper
I find I care if you are well, tomorrow won’t you tell
Your thoughts on life so I can rest?
I’ll offer you a cup of tea
And listen to your teaching.
Street sweeper
Must you brush the other side, this street is wide?
Your barrow’s full, day’s work is done,
While I, my teacup empty, stand
And think I see you weeping.

However the above poem hits you, I hope it will at least lead you to ponder the question, "With whom would I like to share a cup of tea?"

I would love to revisit Assam and Darjeeling to sit with those tea pluckers who through much hardship, sang their way to work. What joy that brought!

I choose any parent for not one has escaped difficult child-rearing experiences. I could share many stories!

Newcomers, immigrants, let’s have a cup of tea together. I’d like to learn your ways as you learn mine.

When it comes right down to it, I would love to have tea with the Queen. I hope she would be able to be herself! I would love to hear her laugh and see her pleasantly amused at how I prepare the tea!

You! I would love to have tea with you! Often when I sit on my front porch, where it’s a little cooler on a summer day, I put teapot on table and bring an extra cup just in case someone may come along and want to set a spell.

And, of course, I cannot omit my five children and their children, who have been too distant during the Covid months. As we FaceTime, I hear their voices of wisdom as experiences are shaping them. 

The theme of Lady Baker’s Tea is Take Time for what Matters. Let’s be proactive in taking that time. Let’s take time for alone-ness and for those with whom you would want to share a cup of tea. Think about it! Who would you choose?

The street sweeper of eleven years ago is still at it! I dare myself to offer him a tall glass of iced tea next time he’s sweeping in our neighbourhood. No longer does sadness prevail! 


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