Steam draws itself from the water kettle. I’ve always thought tea kettles were akin to works of art. Perhaps it’s the way the steam circles into the air, or the time it takes to breathe, to rest before the kettle begins singing and your water is ready. We gather together. My friend sets out the tea in the rows of Apple, Ginger, Blueberry, the truest of Chai, and faithful black tea. Before college I thought tea tasted like boiled water with a hint of dried up leaves. “Laughing”, thankfully college and a fantastic roommate changed my prejudice towards tea. Sometimes coffee and the occasional cup of hot chocolate are on the menu, but usually the conversation is steeped in the courage of tea bags. Conversation and the gathering of courage, that is why we are gathering here among friends to sip tea.
I’m advocating here for that–to set aside a time in your week to gather with friends and drink tea. Let me explain…
We live in a culture where constant movement is valued. We pack our schedules and ourselves full, and we pencil people into moments between our productivity. We need to slow ourselves down and gather with others in an agendaless setting. Sometimes I wonder if we shy away from these settings because we’re terrified of sharing ourselves, and we’re tired of silence with friends that the frailty of words cannot fill. We do spend time with people, though. In fact we waste lots of time with people. I’m speaking about the times we’re on our phone while hanging out with friends, or the many times we end up only talking about celebrity gossip, complaining, or discussing general superficiality. Those are the times we waste ourselves with people.
Another reason we avoid some of these settings, is that there’s also something terrifying about spending real, true time with someone, sipping tea together, and having to look them in the eye. Other cultures do this all the time. They have a daily coffee or tea hour. Economic and educational opportunities abound in our culture, but perhaps we sacrifice the deepening of vital relationships for personal productivity.
I’m writing to myself in this post as much as anyone else. I realized this was a problem in my life, and as my friends and I edge towards graduation, schedules fill up. We realized that if we wanted our friendships to matter, if we wanted the space we occupied in each other’s lives to be something more, then we needed to set a time each week to gather. The time each week that we have been gathering together and share what’s going on in our lives, to listen to each other, to bear one another’s burdens, these times have strengthened and encouraged us for the rest of the week.
I leave you with challenge of considering how to deepen your friendships? Set aside specific time for people and seek ways to have real conversations that go deeper than the chicken patties in the cafeteria and your favorite contestant on The Voice. If you need ideas for deeper conversation topics, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to chat.
As Always, Dwell in The Mercy,