Patchwork Tea

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I crave two things almost equally every day: quality time with people and… chocolate.  When an afternoon of tea with a friend is complimented with chocolate, it is pretty close to perfection. I am convinced if we spent less time stalking people from the comfort of our computer screens and more time actually getting to know them, we would be a much happier people.  Because if you just read my definition of a perfect afternoon and thought how pristine, calm and cozy that sounded, you may have gotten the wrong impression.  If you were here, you would have known how messy, loud and chilly it actually was… what with the mud, glitter, snacks, questions and the constantly opening door to the outside, all going on between sips and words.  My definition of perfect rarely, if ever, equals calm, quiet, neat or tidy.

Not one moment after I poured the tea, hungry child number one came into the kitchen:
Mom?  I’m hungry.
Ok.  Go outside and play for a while, then you can have a snack.  
We sat down, took one sip of tea, and began our conversation.  No sooner has someone heard us swallow before coming in to ask:
Mom?  Can I eat something?
No, go outside with your sibling and play first.  Don’t forget to shut the door!
We continued our conversation, seamlessly blending our last sentence into our next.  The interruption is merely like a breath between words.  Another breath:
Mom?  What can I eat?  I’m hungry!  
Another child walked into the kitchen.  I’m hungry too!
Go outside!  And shut the door behind you!
We entered back into the conversation.  It’s okay if we can’t remember where we left off, because mommy brains are used to forgetting.
Another poor unsuspecting child asks for food.  To me, it’s as if the same child has asked for a snack five times, when in reality it is a different child with the same song, fifth verse.  Mom?  I’m so hungry!  
Go outside!  And shut the door behind you!
A few minutes later, three children were eating apples and yogurt.

The door going outside opened and closed at least fifty-three times over the course of tea.  Thankfully, there is always hot water and good conversation in abundance.  Skinned knees, glitter, and more quests for food rounded out the afternoon.  Not quite like how “tea” is pictured in my head when I say it, but it’s better somehow.  There is no show, just a lot of love.  Conversation is pieced together like a patchwork quilt, all mismatched yet perfect.  Beauty is not in decor but in the person sharing that moment.  There is nothing expensive, but time is priceless.

Hospitality is not something we must perfect before we do it.  Have you ever tried to become perfect at playing the piano without ever practicing first?  The Bible says we are to practice hospitality.  No where does that mean your house has to be of a certain size, status of clean, or must you have matching dishes in order to be hospitable.  It simply means you exude a welcoming spirit into your home and your life.  We have sat on buckets as chairs, yet felt like kings and queens, because of love.  We have also sat on the finest couches and eaten off matching dishes and felt as if we were intruders.  Love opens the china closet and serves the finest wine.  Love makes time and never looks at its watch.  Love is measured not in what you give, so much as in what you hold back.  Until my breath is gone, or the city water supply runs dry, I can always offer a cup of water… preferably hot, poured over a tea bag. DSC_9320


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