Tea Time


Once while we were living in New Zealand, my ever-efficient husband went to help a friend move. (Or was that “shift flats”?) He arrived early enough to dig in, help box up the remaining bits and bobs, and start loading the lorry. Easily it should have taken only a couple of hours. But then, suddenly in the middle of it all, everything and everyone stopped.

It was tea time.

Now to be fair, tea time meant more than tea; it could have been tea and a biscuit, tea and cake, or even “tea” as the evening meal.  But whatever accompanied The Tea, everything else stopped. And in those moments, for those blessed fleeting minutes, it were as if someone had hit the pause button on the entire world.

Of course, here in the States we have our own ritual--the coffee break--but for whatever reason, it’s not the same. And I don’t think it’s just about our choice of beverage. It’s a subtle distinction and probably one (like most of my rambling philosophical thoughts) isn’t all that significant; but I couldn’t help but notice a different attitude in NZ, a different approach, almost as if those moments, those minutes were sacred. There, we were not so much taking a break from work as we were taking time for tea.

Remembering this, this weekend as I sipped my tea with a splash of milk, I was struck by the purposefulness of taking time, of setting aside a moment, of hallowing it. And I realized that this, this is how we must live. And perhaps just as significantly, this is how we must rest. Whether it’s fifteen minutes at work or one day a week or a period of extended sabbatical, we must rest with purpose and focus on what is happening in this moment. Not what we just completed or what will come. But what is happening now.

And that takes faith. Especially for those of us addicted to multi-tasking.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon reminds us that “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (No, that wasn’t original with Pete Seeger or the Byrds, but go ahead you can sing it anyway –“turn, turn, turn…”) And yet, surprisingly, contrary to common perception, Solomon wasn’t talking about accepting the cycle of life so much as trusting the One who’s in control of it all in the first place. About trusting that these diverse moments, each with its own purpose, are His sovereignly shaped gifts to be used in the way He intended.

So when it comes to those “time for tea” moments, those moments where your efficiency is stifled, have enough faith to pause and enjoy your cuppa or your coffee (preferably with a Tim Tam). Have enough faith to savor the moment, to rest in the moment, and to bless God for His gift of the moment.