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  • Sarah Raad

Tea

What comfort there is to be found in prayer…

Baptism of the Lord (El Greco)

When I was a little baby, my mother – who did and still does love a nice hot cup of tea – often used to make very weak black tea with lots of sugar and pour it into my bottle for me drink.


I know mothers around the world would shudder at this, but please keep in mind that I was little a very long time ago now and though I have never tried such a thing with my own children, it definitely did not seem to cause me very much harm in the long run.


But though this bottle of tea did not cause me harm, it did result in a rather strange habit for me…


It sort of addicted me to tea for life.


Now – much to my best friend’s disgust – I do not drink coffee. I never have and probably never will like the taste or the smell of coffee. The closest I come to coffee, is eating Tiramisu, which let us face it… is more sugar than coffee!


And so it is that tea remains my warm drink of choice, though the way that I take my tea has changed dramatically over the years.


I used to drink tea white tea with a bit of sugar. My mother’s late sister, Josephine, used to offer us cups of tea with milk and sugar when we were very young and tell us that we could drink them like… “Ladies and gentlemen of the press.” Aunty Josephine (may God rest her soul) often served this tea in cups and saucers rather than mugs, which made everything feel just a little bit special.


But then, as I grew older, while I was at university, I got some part-time work in administration for a construction company… And let me just say that the way those builders left their kitchen was a huge disincentive to touch anything other than the kettle! And so it was, that I soon forewent the sugar and milk in the interests of health and hygiene and started drinking my tea black without any sugar out of a disposable cup…


And then, came the various fads… Green tea was popular with me for a few years. I loved it. But then my babies would not sleep at night, and my sister-in-law told me that Green tea contained caffeine. I was so desperate, that I was willing to try anything. So I ditched the green tea for plain boiled water.


That was over a decade ago… and I have not looked back.


My husband routinely laughs at my boiled water drinking. After all, I simply fill a coffee mug with boiled water straight from the kettle – I never add anything to it – and I do this repeatedly throughout the day because I find it terribly refreshing.

Today, in reflecting on my tea-drinking evolution over the years, it occurs to me that drinking tea is very similar to my evolution in faith.

After all, when I was very young, I was baptised (and confirmed because I am a Maronite Catholic) with my parents’ consent. I went to Mass with them, and prayed when they directed me to. I never approached God alone because I did not know how to. It was my parents who taught me my faith just as my mother poured tea in a bottle. And why did they do that for me? Because, they wished to share something that brought them comfort… After all, my mother bottle fed me tea because she felt better after she drank a cup of tea – it made sense for her to wish to share her faith with me – for that brought her even greater comfort.


Then, when I was a child, I received other sacraments – Reconciliation, Holy Communion. These were special occasions. They were like the tea with milk and sugar poured into tea cups and saucers. This created memories, like those with my late Aunty Josephine, which were a little bit special.


And then, as I entered the real world, drinking tea with all the bits and pieces I soon realised that there was just too much going on, and with all the distractions of this place, it was better to pull thing back and keep it simple. And so, I cut all the extra bits and pieces out. There was Mass on Sunday – of course… But reconciliation was harder to get to and so, it drifted to the side and months and years went by before I could incorporate that sacrament back into my life in a meaningful way.


And then there was the Green Tea phase. It was good enough for me, but things started to get difficult when my children had to be involved. After all, I was now taking children along for this journey and so my tastes had to change.


You see, I always loved tea – but it is not the drink that I craved, but the comfort. I guess a part of me remembers those warm sweet bottles of tea that I drank before I even knew what it was, and it is that comfort that I seek in the warmth of the cup.


And so, these days, as I drink my tea, I remember my Beloved…


For Christ gives living water, which is the water of New Life… “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water” (John 4:10).


And so these days, though I never offered my children the comforts of a bottle of warm sweet tea, I do offer them the comforts of prayer.


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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