Friday, December 14, 2012

Ladies' Christmas Tea

There’s this thing I do on Facebook pretty often.  I call it “Practicing gratitude,” where I list a whole bunch of recent things I’m thankful for.  Last Saturday this was my list: the stubborn way that human beings will choose not to wear socks for a while even when it's chilly; feeling empowered by just wrapping my hands around a warm mug or teacup; cups with straight lips; what Gene Edward Veith said and Ann Voskamp quoted: "Motherhood is a rebuke to everything gnostic, the heresy that says only ‘spiritual’ things are worthwhile… Motherhood is the perfect illustration of vocation. God has empowered a woman to be a mother, and God works with a mother to sustain that fragile life."; meeting Christmas music softly playing in the living room when I came upstairs this morning; half a dozen warm sweaters to choose from; plans to make scones tomorrow and to talk about the miracle and labor of birth; God who takes His workmanship, His poems, seriously; God who does crazy things sometimes and made us in His image – I suspect – even in that craziness.

Yes, empowered by a cup. 
A huge room full of women
talking and it's a little dark and I know faces but I realize I don't know people - and sometimes it's the reverse: I realize I do know people that I’d not spoken to in years, that I’d remembered and felt the impact of, but not related to...
And I’m at a table and I’m supposed to converse, but I’m not sure why I came or why God wanted me to come or what my friends expect of me…

And then there is tea in my cup and it is something to tinker with, to swirl the tea bag and sip to taste for sweetness or flavor, to meditate on which herbs are releasing their gifts to the water at this time and which will wait for later…

And it's kind of a shield that I hold between myself and people,
and kind of a revelation at the same time: this is me, holding tea, and this is how I treat it and what I think of it and you're holding a cup, too, and the common thing bridges us into each other's thoughts and lives and maybe even spirits.

So I don't feel small and uncertain anymore the rest of the night.  I pray while the man up front sings about Christmas.  I pray about the way the songs penetrate my friends, too.  I pray far away, about the things that always sit on my heart, and
I thank God that He is here, Jesus come to be present.

And when the "program" is complete there is a swirl of women: finding serving bowls and putting on coats and using the ladies’ room and crossing paths in hallways and marveling at snow out tall windows. 
I find it easy to smile; to open doors; to help and to not;
to look for my dish patiently; to hug a young girl I scarcely know but who seems to want to know me and I don't know why because I'm clumsy and silly and she's lovely and capable and assured;
to be thinking of others and not just about them, but of them - if that makes any sense. 

It all starts with wrapping hands around a cup and not putting it down between sips, which isn't very formal, and maybe that's what does it - that this tiny gesture is rejecting formality in the interests of sincerity and love and me choosing to be present with Jesus and with these women He has brought... wondering why He has brought...

To God be all glory.  

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