Bitter Tea

Tea leaves need to be stored and steeped properly, otherwise tea can taste quite bitter.  Old leaves that are exposed to light, air and moisture usually result in bitter tea. Also, the tannins in tea can release with too much intensity, if the leaves are brewed improperly or the water is too hot.

Life can be like this. The circumstances and interactions we have with people can often leave a bitter taste in our mouths.

Perhaps someone said something hurtful, or that meeting took a turn for the worse, or that expectation of a nice dinner out turned into an argument, or you ended up verbally vomiting a bunch of things you really didn’t mean, (these could all be just me!).  A bitter taste is left in your mouth…

These are times when mindfulness and connecting with God is the hardest for me. I usually like to act first, think second, talk to my husband and friends to process, and pray last.  I pray only after I can’t figure out a good solution or I’m too exhausted emotionally.  My prayer usually goes something like this,”Okay Lord, I tried to do it without you. This is like the sixty-trillionth time I’m asking for your help to please restore the places where the locusts have eaten. Please please help me redeem the mess I have made.”

Really, what I am asking God is two-fold. First, I need God to clarify what I am feeling because all the steps I have tried only made my emotions a jumbled mess, making me feel generally worse about myself.  Second, I need God to clarify my next steps. I need His guidance about what to do, or not do, next. The tea I drank is cloudy with the residue of my thoughtless actions (or others’). I’m not wise enough on my own to figure out how to move forward.  “Lord, I need your wisdom to figure things out from here on out; please meet me where I’m at.”

The Buddhist teachings I have been studying say that all things on earth is a delusion, your pure buddha nature is full of compassion and your job is to reconnect to the pure state, then you will receive compassion and wisdom.

For me as a Christian, I sense that I and other humans have no pure nature and “the sin that so easily entangles” that Paul wrote about, is still leading me. I think to an end goal, but usually just to a cliff of further despair. The pure path is led by God’s compassion and wisdom and I need to take His path and not mine.

When the tea of life is bitter it is hard to sit in mindfulness. I think it’s because I have to look at myself and the thoughts that come up aren’t flattering and are usually full of coulda, shoulda, wouldas, or worse.

Gratefully, that mindful sitting eventually turns to freedom. Mindfulness can lead to letting go of negative thoughts, but also letting go of a cycle of unforgiveness in my life, which leads to nothing. I get to give it all up to God and know that my dependence on His grace and wisdom are really all that I need. He provides the proper storage for life.  All His answers come and bring sweet flavor to my otherwise bitter tea.


Author: regimadi

I'm an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Azusa Pacific University, an avid tea sipper and researcher on mindfulness.

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