Peace in a Bowl


When you serve tea to your guests, you should simply serve tea from your heart, and think about nothing more.
-Poem 93 of Sen Rikyu


I’ve spent years learning
how to set aside my worries at the teahouse door,
and lose myself
in the sound of pouring water
and the scent of matcha rising from the bowl.

Some days that isn’t easy.
The world likes to devour souls by bits
and I can’t drink enough tea
to wash the bitter taste from my mouth.

It is then I remember
tea bowls were meant for sharing.

The art of tea cannot be measured
by the strokes of my whisk
or the thickness in the folds of my cloth.
But it can be fairly gauged
by the smile on my guest’s face.

The peace that eluded me
roots in them, multiplies,
and finally alights in me.
When we leave the teahouse
we both carry more than enough
peace to share, where before there was turmoil.


This poem is linked up to Poets United, Midweek Motif and dVerse, OLN 234.



Notes from the Real World (if you’re just here for the poetry, feel free to skip this part, though I expect MissWicked ought to read it, since she’s the one who challenged me to do it): This poem was inspired by one of three scrolls that were shared by my tea school last year. They were meant to inspire peace in the hearts of people who saw them. My fellow students and I were tasked with serving tea while visitors came to admire the scroll. I admit my mood was cynical before I walked in the door (because hey, 2017 gave people a lot to be cynical about), but as the day progressed, I found myself becoming more peaceful with each bowl of tea I made, and living up to the words on the scroll—providing a small seed of peace for everyone who walked through Shofuso’s doors, and seeing folks leave carrying a bit of that peaceful spirit that (hopefully) they could share with others.



Now of course, 2017 doesn’t hold a monopoly on my moods of cynicism and doubt. Although I’m just coming out of the experience of finishing and publishing a short story collection, a giant cloud with the words “What’s next?” seems to have followed me around from the moment I clicked the button to officially release the book out into the world. The good news is I have lots of ideas. The bad news is that they all are spinning around me like a cyclone of bright shiny things I can reach towards but can’t quite grab. I’m overwhelmed.

The idea of achieving world peace is exponentially more overwhelming, but in that afternoon at Shofuso, I know that I along with my fellow tea students created a haven where peace could quietly slip into someone’s heart, and that peace could spread to people they interacted with later. If such a simple act can do that, maybe it’s not too far-fetched of an idea to take a moment or two to give myself the gift of tea, savor it, and see what comes from that. It’s worth a shot.







60 comments:

  1. Oh, wonderful, both bits. Today Sumana's prompt at Poets United is "Peace on Earth." I hope you will share this poem/blog with us there as well. Thank you for sharing this bowl of tea.

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    1. I am happy to share anyplace that welcomes me or my tea

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  2. When I was younger (so young that my youth sparkled with mild glints of stupidity), I was convinced that I could do anything alone. I needed no one, I thought. I mean, I still feel that there are a whole bunch of things I can do perfectly well on my own, but... the bigger things--love and health and peace and happiness--everyone needs people for that. Like your poem suggests, peace is something we can (and must) share with others... not a tea we could ever drink alone.

    Even reading about what happened on your tea school feels peaceful. Just like the never-ending flow of ideas sounds exhausting (and even intimidating). I agree with you, though, in the end... all we can do is what we can (while enjoying it as much as we dare).

    And, of course, we should use lots and lots of ellipses while we are at it...

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  3. I was a disco ball of derp in my youth.

    LOL, and yes, part of it was due to some of the walls I put up, for reasons both good and imagined. Sometimes its in the sharing that we find ourselves, our purpose, and something worth fighting for.

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  4. LOVE!💞 Especially the idea of peace that can "quietly slip into someone’s heart," this is such a beautiful and giving poem, Rommy!💞

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  5. I love the sharing of tea, smiles and peacefulness. When we cant solve the big things, we CAN share peace in small ways that make a differnce, if only in those with whom we connect. I love this, Rommy. Let's hope for better days. I love some of the women that got elected. Change makers.

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    1. I am vaguely, cautiously optimistic. Let's see what these ladies can do.

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  6. I've always found that, after completing a big project, I like to do nothing for awhile. Just rest, rejuvenate and "fill the well," as they say. The enthusiasm and creativity needed to tackle the next big job will just naturally arise when the time is right.

    Of course, my employer did not subscribe to this view, worse luck.

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    1. Damn employers, not recognizing the ebb and flow of energy!

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  7. Things just make more sense over a cup of tea.
    Peace and patience good things to consider over a cuppa.
    Nice to meet you...

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    1. Oh most certainly! Thank you for stopping by. :)

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  8. I cant say that I've had the pleasure of having tea in a social setting. I may enjoy a cup of tea alone at home, but after reading your poem, I'm convinced that I've been missing out all these years.

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    1. If you ever get an opportunity to go to a tea demo you should! My tea school, Urasenke, puts on demonstrations all over the world. I'm fairly sure Omotosenke (another Japanese tea school) does so as well.

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  9. Very cool. Doing our own part--love this bit. The most difficult and beyond reach space in this world is simplicity, sharing and smiling. And you showed us the way. Being a tea person ( can't recollect when I last had a cup of coffee) I thoroughly enjoyed it :)

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    1. Grand things can start in very simple ways. I am glad you enjoyed it.

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  10. Thank you for sharing this beauty with us Rommy.

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  11. Rommy

    Your tea ritual / interaction has a super sublime beauty. “I found myself becoming more peaceful with each bowl of tea I made, and living up to the words on the scroll—providing a small seed of peace for everyone...”

    As for a giant cloud with the words “What’s next?”, I say please enjoy the moment. Pat yourself on the back, and give yourself that gift! Writing and publishing a book is no mean feat.

    Thank you for sharing your journey!

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    1. Studying tea is a wonderfully calming practice, LOL unlike getting a book ready to publish. Thank you for the kind words.

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  12. I love that thought and I agree whole heartedly..more things are wrought by tea drinking than we imagine!

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  13. What a wonderfully "grounding" image you created for us...and now I need tea lol XXX

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  14. This is so beautiful Rommy! I never knew you went to a tea school. That is truly beautiful! I love this post! Please give yourself the gift of tea! When it's time to create again, you will! Big Hugs!

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    1. Yes! I've been going for over 5 years now. I just got my official tea license from Urasenke Kyoto this year.

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  15. Very beautiful Rommy - delicately profound and SO true... Great!

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  16. The gentle practice of peace and connection, beautiful Rommy...

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    1. I'm a grateful for having made a space to cultivate that in my life.

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  17. I love the sentiment of this - the discipline of being fully in the moment, and the honesty of life's insistent niggling. Now I need to make some tea.

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    1. Yes, it absolutely is a discipline, especially for someone like me who runs from one thing to the next all the time.

      I am glad I inspired the desire to make tea. :D

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  18. There is something healing about tea. It is an ambassador of peace in the world. There is something healing in asking someone if they'd like a cup of tea. You've captured it in this poem and it's a pleasant thought that your tea house offers such comfort.

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    1. Thank you Jade. It was an honor for me to be part of Urasenke's special event that day.

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  19. I do love the sharing... which I think extends so far beyond tea... and so is the smile we serve with the tea.

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    1. Yes, it is more than the brew in the bowl... but that part is really good too!

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  20. I am printing this one for my wall. There is much to learn and feel in this poem for any of us as we move and serve in the world, As a physician, about 85% of my thought and decision process is repetitive, much like pouring tea I may imagine. But I get the feeling from your poem that the value of a moment is not in the uniqueness of the moment, but is rather inherently in the moment itself, just like the people involved. The healing and joy comes from the listening, the smiles, the griefs, all of it. Nice Rommy. Good to meet you 🙋🏻‍♀️

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    1. Yes! Exactly this. Thank you so much for the kind words.

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  21. If we can share tea, why not share peace. A lovely poem, Rommy.

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    1. I certainly believe it could be possible :)

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  22. There is something magical about the entire process of making a pot or cup of tea that exist for no other beverage, we drink. Maybe, it's the ritual that ground us, in times of stress and anger, as we surround ourselves, in a familiar pattern of movements. Either way, due to life's quirks, I can no longer drink the elixir from the tea bush. Thus, forced to find comfort in herbal blends that are caffeine-free.

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    1. Tisanes are still quite lovely, though I'll admit most of my every day teas contain some variation of the camellia sinensis. Still there's nothing like a nice ginger for colds, peppermint for an upset stomach, or chamomile before bed.

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  23. I could feel the heat of the cup between my palms and smell the fragrant tea. Your teacher would be very well pleased, I think. Hope you show this to him/her and send it off to an appropriate magazine.

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    1. Wow! Thank you Christine. I am very honored by your words.

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  24. I love the idea of sharing a bowl of tea, Rommy, and leaving my
    worries at the teahouse door. I especially enjoyed the lines:
    'The art of tea cannot be measured
    by the strokes of my whisk
    or the thickness in the folds of my cloth.
    But it can be fairly gauged
    by the smile on my guest’s face.'

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  25. Nice line and observation: "tea bowls were meant for sharing."

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    1. There's just something about the way they fit so well in the hands.

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  26. in making the tea and then in the sharing both have this therapeutic healing when hands are at work. i really enjoyed the steps you took me through as I read felt the movements you described

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    1. I am so glad that you were able to feel that.

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  27. The aroma, the actual wrapping ones' hand around a cup (you say bowl so I'm wondering) of warmth - is very soothing. To offer that to others, to serve others, I think is truly key to our becoming kinder.

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    1. I'm glad you asked Margaret! In the notes I mention that I am part of a tea school. I have taken lessons from the Philadelphia branch of the Urasenke tea school based out of Kyoto for over 5 years to study traditional Japanese tea ceremony. We serve the matcha in a chawan, which is commonly translated as tea bowl because in size and shape they resemble small bowls more than they do cups.

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  28. Tea Time Online
    Desert
    Dry
    Tea
    Bags
    No Longer
    Steeping Human..:)

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  29. I am now yearning, indeed need a tea... not like the one I just finished, distracted and with teabag now abandoned and soggy at the base of mug... but the spiritual one you made me covet here x wonderful Rommy ❤️

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    1. I think everyone should have a special cup of tea every now and again :)

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  30. Sublime! A wonderful contribution Rommy. The tea ritual is a spiritual experience. I can relate to it because I grew up in Ethiopia- where making and serving coffee to your guests was done with a reverent air. With your poem and blog- you brought this to my remembrance. Good job!

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    1. Ooh! I didn't know that! I would love to see that in action some day. :)

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