A Soothing Cup of Tea
Despite the upcoming holidays, the world is bleeding deeply and tragically. A profound sense of foreboding is seeping in everywhere. It would be easy to succumb to the uncertainty of these times, even as they bring values into acute focus.
I could be overwhelmed. But one reassuring thought has emerged in these past tumultuous weeks. “You are not in this alone. Small groups can birth a flexible strength to keep freedom of thought and expression alive. Don’t give up. The work is just beginning.”
I try to relax.
Kon-Sei-En Tea Shop (今清園) is indeed harmonious and soothing. It has tatami floors, huge earthen pots, and well loved wooden tea boxes. “We don’t use these anymore,” the owner explains. “Tea is well packaged now, so these boxes are no longer necessary. But they are beautiful, aren’t they? They are like old friends, so we keep them.”
Yayoe Konno and her sister-in-law, Noriko Konno, were both born in Shizuoka, the tea growing area of Japan. They came to Sendai as young brides and now are the only ones left honoring the shop’s old ways.
It is indeed a ceremony. Or maybe better a ritual. An ancient and sacred one. I savor the vivid green bitterness, and my soul is indeed soothed. Tea’s continuity through war and peace, through poverty and riches, through hard times and prosperity holds a profound reassurance. We are making dangerously ignorant choices at the moment. But as we “little people’ join together and work relentlessly for freedom of thought and expression, there is surely hope for a better tomorrow.