April 02, 2009

Tasting Tea

Remember, my new schedule: articles on Thursdays, photographs whenever. Here's this week's article...

I got up early, fixed myself a cup of green tea, and sat down at the table. I opened a book I've been reading. The title of the book is Sabbath. I searched for the spot where'd I'd left off, since I hadn't bothered to locate a bookmark when I last read. As I did so, I thought about the previous day, and how it didn't quite go according to plan.

The plan was to spend some quiet time by myself. It was the one day of the week that I didn't have any obligations. A day to restore my soul. A day of rest.

It was also a day in which my wife would be leaving to spend the weekend with my sister, who was having a sort of bachelorette party. I realized that my wife would need a ride to my sister's house, which was about twenty miles away, but that this should still allow me to have some uninterrupted time to myself before the kids were out of school; then, the plan was to do something fun with them in the evening.

As we were getting ready to leave, my wife said she needed some items from the store, and asked if I would pick them up on my way home. Turns out they were the type of things that are only available at a big grocery store, the kind of store that requires a half-hour commitment just to find the item you're looking for. While I was there, I grabbed some other items we needed, then waited as patiently as I could while the customer ahead of me in line unloaded her cart so slowly that the cashier had to wait between each scan for the customer to put each item on the conveyor belt. I thought about offering to unload her cart for her, but my mood was already beginning to sour.

It was noon when I parked in front of the house. Still a few hours to myself, I thought as I began unload what turned out to be four bags of groceries. As I opened the door to the house, the phone began to ring; I rushed to set the groceries down and answered the phone. It was my son's school; he wasn't feeling well, and he had a fever of 99.4, and they wanted me to come pick him up.

99.4? Is that even a fever? At the thought of losing the last few hours of my "sabbath," I felt my own temperature rise to at least that.

Well, I went and picked him up from school. It was lunch time, and the kids were out on the playground, except for my little boy who was in the nurse's office. The office worker said that lunch was over in "30 seconds," and we could go to his classroom and wait for his teacher so that he could get his backpack and take it home.

So we walked to the classroom and waited. I thought of the frozen food I hadn't yet put away at home. After five minutes, I asked my son, "when does lunch end?"

"Not for twenty minutes," he said.

We went back to the office. "Oh, I'm sorry," said the office worker. "I read the schedule wrong. I'll call the janitor to let you in." Back to the classroom.

When we got home, my son watched a movie, while I (after putting the groceries away) attempted to salvage some of my day, but my mood was too sour. All I could think about was what I had lost on this day. When my son asked me to play a board game, I said no, because I wanted part of "my" day, but by this point, "my" day was nothing but a miserable exercise in self-pity.

At 3:00, I went to pick up my other son from school. Naturally, he had an after-school activity that I wasn't aware of. After waiting for 15 minutes, I went home, and returned to pick him up at 4:00.

With these thoughts in my head, I continued thinking about my day when I realized that my cup of tea was half empty. Half empty, and I hadn't even tasted it. My mind was still stuck in yesterday. I took another sip, slowly, and this time tasted the tea. I was surprised at how good it tasted. How could I have drunk half the cup already without even tasting it?

Slowly, I took another sip. I closed my eyes as the warm liquid passed over my taste buds. Ahh, that's good.

I thought again of the previous day. You know, I said to myself, it wasn't all that bad. In fact, the only thing that I could really see that went wrong was my attitude. I spent the whole day focusing on what I was missing, instead of focusing on what I had. What blessings had I received yesterday? What good was there, if only I had noticed it? I had a wife who got along well with my sister, who actually enjoyed spending time with her and didn't just pretend to--now that is a blessing! I have two wonderful sons who do well in school, who enjoy extracurricular activities (which, in this case, involves writing of all things), and who have adults at the school who care for them. I had the opportunity yesterday, as I do every day, to show my love to my children, to provide for them, and to spend time with them.

I knew that I could add to this list for quite some time. Instead, I took another sip of tea, and gave thanks to God for how good it was.

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