Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - June 8, 2006)
The art of making tea applies when hurricanes are
Along my travels in life I was fortunate to reside, for 11 years, in a neighborhood
affectionately referred to as China Town. Here is where I learned to play penny
poker with my Laotian neighbor. Neither of us could understand more than a few
words of each others language, but several nights a week we gathered our
pennies and cards. We laughed, shared tea and special recipes and over time grew to
care very much for one another.
|Photo by Rick Tremmel
|We never know what life will
bring, so prepare to live in the present. But be prepared for the
unexpected, as experienced in Punta Gorda during Hurricane
Mani Chan was a gentle woman. I learned from her what humble meant and how to live
in the present moment, a concept I need to remind myself of frequently. Our
American culture teaches us to want the biggest and the best. As well, we have a
hard time just saying a genuine, Thank you.
We feel we need to give something in return when something is given to us. Look at
what we have done to Christmas. It is an honor to be gifted something. There is no
need to reciprocate, but learn to accept graciously this kindness. It is often
said, Live for the moment. This reflects our Western interpretation.
All of us have the capability to understand what Live for the Moment
means. Live for the moment to own a new car. Live for the moment to buy a new
house, go out on the town and so on.
But think again about this belief slightly reworded, Live in the present
moment. There is an enormous difference in these two concepts.
My friend Mani Chan taught me the art of making tea. While learning this ceremony
I became to realize those concepts of giving, receiving, being thankful and living
in the present moment.
Now Mani Chan was no fool. She prepared for life. She saved those pennies she
joyfully won. Mani Chan knew that to live in the present moment it was necessary to
make a plan and each day, each moment build toward this plan as it is with the art
of making tea. You may think that microwaving a cup of water from the tap, then
plopping a tea bag into the cup, wringing it out with a spoon a few times prepares
a sufficient cup of tea for your tastes. But you have not mastered or been a part
of enjoying the process.
From choosing the perfect tea leaves, to preparing the teapot, boiling the water,
warming the pot, allowing the tea to steep just the right amount of time, so as not
to be too bitter or too weak. Then to graciously serve this tea and sit in long
silence sipping this artful brew, tasting, smelling, feeling the warmth of the cup
against your hands, hear the silence, be aware of the presence of your friend, be
aware of your own thoughts, taking a moment to be.
Gong Fu Tea. The earliest rituals involving tea came to Japan as a
part of Buddhist meditation in the sixth century. The term denotes skill from
practice the idea being that expertise is derived not so much from learning
as from experience, that is: practice (which we could say in this case does not
make perfect but which is instead an end in itself).
According to Chinese mythology, in 2737 B.C. the Chinese Emperor, Shen Nung,
scholar and herbalist, was sitting beneath a tree while his servant boiled drinking
water. A leaf from the tree dropped into the water and Shen Nung decided to try the
brew. The tree was a wild tea tree. Tea master Wong Sun Chun has been studying the
art of tea making and drinking for more than 30 years.
If Mani Chan had not thoughtfully purchased the right teapot, carefully chose the
tea, allowed the water to sit overnight and breathe, or made her preparations in
advance to serve this tea, I would have never experienced this gracious gift from
No matter what we succeed in doing in life, it requires careful preparation.
Speaking of preparation, the State of Florida Division of Emergency Management
State Emergency Response Team-SERT launched an unprecedented,
multimillion dollar public education campaign to promote hurricane preparedness on
May 26, 2006.
According to their press release; For the first time ever, Floridians can
access the new online, Interactive Tool to create tailor-made Family and Business
Florida Association of Broadcasters president Pat Roberts states, There is
no longer a single excuse for Floridians to not have their own family or business
By visiting the SERT Web site, www.floridadisaster.org/family, you can fill out a form to
individualize your very own Hurricane Preparedness Plan.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.