A Meditation with a Tea Cup


“To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.” – Chinese proverb


I must confess that I have not yet learned to appreciate tea, or any warm beverage beyond hot chocolate for that matter. I live in the heart of a city known for its coffee and prefer my morning beverage to be one I can float marshmallows in. But if it means cradling the antique finery once belonging to my grandmother in my hands, I will learn to love it. I have a dear friend who gifts me lavishly each birthday and Christmas with incredible artistry in the form of teacups with matching porcelain spoons bearing garden and nature themes. Berries, dragonflies and frogs adorn these cups and saucers, their three-dimensional embellishments so delicate they seem impossible. My first inclination is to put them high upon a “safe” shelf to keep them forever. But there is no real pleasure in that. These treasures become a metaphor for a way of living, or not living as the case may be. Bringing out the really precious things and using them daily is another way of being here now, and fully engaging in life.

Lissi Kaplan, author of the book “The Power of a teacup: A Story of Art, Love and Sacred Gardens”* believes “we all have a garden inside us, a garden of many colors and shapes that needs to be watered and nurtured and loved”. She goes on to say that “the seeds of the garden are the possibilities and passions that are deep within and that need to open in order to take root and flourish and thrive.”

Time and Again

Sitting across the table from a friend or family member, sipping from a porcelain garden reconnects you with others who have done the very same thing in a kitchen years ago and far away. I believe a cup can hold the memories of ancestors and loved ones in a mystical way. When I wash an antique dish, for a moment, I am in the past and present simultaneously. I find myself rooted in timelessness, joining in the cherished memories of my heritage. People have repeated the simple act of serving tea to a friend countless times; and yet each poured cup is a unique thread intricately woven into the past and the future, creating a tapestry of intimate conversations, shared grief, laughter and celebration. I think stories live inside teacups, remaining there for the next generation of little girls and tea parties, mothers and daughters, sons and friends to add their contribution, who find their roots, germinating new seeds of possibility.
 How do you celebrate the day?

What might you do for yourself that nourishes you and makes you feel loved?

Is your garden watered and nurtured?
* Kaplan, Lissi: The Power of a teacup: A Story of Art, Love and Sacred Gardens, Regan Books, 2003.

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