Water touches tea
releasing its sweet fragrance.
Today I receive
instead of serve. I find joy
in others’ first tastes of art.
This poem is linked to Poets United's Pantry of Poetry and Prose
Liner Notes For This Groove: I remember when I first started tea lessons. There were so many terms to learn, so many small details of movement and positioning to keep straight. I may have responded in Spanish a few times when I was supposed to answer in Japanese. I may have mangled my Japanese so I told my guests to finish cleaning up for me. But the older more experienced students were there to give me tips on how to remember things, tricks for polishing my techniques, and just be generally helpful.
So recently I had a lesson where I was the most senior student. I did advance clean up to make the lessons flow more smoothly, just the way I remember some of the older students did for me. I lent out some of my tea things so the newer students could practice with them.
Now I’ve been studying long enough to know I’ve made decent progress in my personal practice. But being able to help really made me feel like I was part of the tea school in a way I hadn’t experienced before. I was part of the process of helping others learn, and that felt really cool. Sen Rikyu (the founder of the Urasenke Tea School) wrote many famous poems regarding the art of tea. In his 98th poem he wrote, “Mastery in chanoyu is a matter of empathy, versatility, and experience. When these three are present and in balance, the person is capable of true understanding.” I make no claims to mastery but I’m happy in knowing I’ve made enough advances in all three to feel a new sense of place in a larger tradition.
|Yummy tea treats. One of the new students was helpful|
in finding the best angle to take the picture.
So dear Groovers, what traditions are close to your heart? Talk to me about them in the comments section and do drop a link to your cyberhome if you want to take the conversation to a deeper place.
Song Choice: Be True to Your School by The Beach Boys