I like to brew myself a cup of tea each morning with breakfast. There are times when I hesitate: “It takes so long! I probably won’t get more than one sip while it’s still hot. Why bother?” But I brew one anyway. Taking the time to make my cup of tea assures me that there will be time to sip it, to savor the warmth in my hand and to breathe in and out as I prepare for my day. (Granted, I usually end up gulping the last few tepid swallows as I am clearing the breakfast table, but those are only the last few.)
Taking time for tea causes me to ponder what else benefits from a little extra time. In a given day my spirit flourishes when I:
Take time for conversation: it requires effort to move past routine formalities with friends and family but as Lara Casey (author of Cultivate) recommends, ask the second question. Thinking of follow-up questions or fresh conversation topics to share on Marco Polo, in texts, on the phone or just in little chats with my children causes me to think deeper about the relationships that I treasure.
Take time to cultivate and tend: I’ve added new categories to my daily schedule. Instead of making a long list of must-do’s or want-to-do’s, I now write down a skill that I want to tend each day and a relationship I would like to cultivate a bit more. For example, today I talked to a beloved friend on the phone; this conversation nourished our friendship in a real way. Last Tuesday I enjoyed cross-stitching while listening to a podcast, a skill that I want to tend. The assurance that every day I am touching my priorities provides me with a sense of accomplishment and peace at the end of the day.
Take time to let my children cry: My instinct is to rush to my child’s side the minute a wail begins but taking the time to wait a few extra minutes provides the opportunity for that child to learn how to process emotion and develop problem-solving skills. More often than not if I wait the tears will slow down and the cries will dissipate as something more interesting to do has been discovered. It’s a win-win for child and mother!
Take time to write letters: Letter-writing is an ancient skill that has preserved much of mankind’s history. I have 10 beloved pen-pals and every time I sit down to pen them a missive I am showing that person she matters to me, as Father Tim’s friend and bishop once told him (At Home in Mitford). It warms my heart to see my children already developing an interest in correspondence and great interest in the mailbox and raising the flag. There’s just something about filling blank stationery with thoughts that are focused entirely on one special person who will open the envelope and read those thoughts in her home.
And it all starts with taking time to brew, sip and savor that steaming liquid. It’s a reminder that rushing through one’s day only brings one to its end stressed and out of breath. Remember the layers of life that I wrote about a few months ago? I think that sipping and savoring, cultivating and tending, reading and writing, asking and listening help one’s spirit uncover those hidden layers that hold such fulfillment.
Do you take time to drink your tea (or coffee) while it’s hot? How often do you conclude your day with regret because you didn’t do something that mattered to you?