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16909Tea Leaf Meditation/Memories

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  • Papajeff
    Dec 25, 2009
      This comes to mind today,
      because, growing up,
      Christmas was a time
      of big family gatherings
      at my grandmother's house,
      and she would spend hours
      "reading tea leaves"
      for anyone who asked.

      If you're not familiar
      with this particular
      meditation ceremony...

      It begins with pouring
      boiling water through
      a metal strainer filled
      with loose teas leaves,
      to create the tea.

      The tea is caught directly
      in a cup or tea post
      that is held under the
      strainer as the water is
      being poured through
      the tea leaves.

      The strainer, especially
      after a few uses, begins to
      get banged up a bit
      and the screen damaged
      enough to create bigger
      openings. This allow
      a few tea leaf clumps to
      fall into the brew.

      Once the tea has been
      sipped to the bottom,
      clumps of tea leaves
      are "randomly" left spread
      around the bottom of
      the tea cup, creating a
      "picture" – for those
      with eyes to see it.

      Nana believed in a benevolent
      and informative energy that
      could tell us of the future.
      The fact that this mystical
      benevolence chose to use
      the unique medium of tea leaves
      was apparently not questioned
      by my grandmother.


      One Christmas, when I was
      young, maybe 8 or 9 years old,
      I remember her calling me over
      to her, so she could
      "tell my fortune".

      Peering into her tea cup,
      with me looking over her
      shoulder into the cup,
      she began.

      "See," she said, "There's
      a young boy. That's you,
      carrying a sack over your
      shoulder. Do you see it?

      "See the long and winding
      road? That means you are
      going away on a long
      journey some day. You are
      going to travel great

      "See the little dog there
      on the side of the road?
      That means you will have
      a faithful companion.

      "Oh, and do you see the bag of
      money? You're going to be rich
      and successful. One day,
      you will walk a golden road."

      And when she said that, suddenly
      I could see it all: the boy
      carrying a sack, a little dog,
      like a Scotty, the long and
      winding road, and right there
      in tea leaves at the bottom
      of a china cup, plain as the
      nose on your face -- I saw
      a sack of money; classic soft
      canvas bag, with leather
      trim, stuffed full of money.

      And to make sure you got
      the point, a big dollar
      sign right in the middle of it
      -- perfectly sculpted out
      of tea leaves in the bottom
      of the cup. I could see it!

      When I was in the 5th grade,
      I used the word, "intelligent"
      while describing my grandmother.
      She objected to this immediately.

      She said very simply
      and matter-of-factly,
      "It's not intelligence.
      it's wisdom."

      I wondered if her wisdom
      came from the tea leaves.

      She could sit for hours,
      crocheting, making a quilt,
      knitting a sweater. She
      would just gently rock,
      deep in meditation - often
      with a Camel cigarette,
      that had long since gone out,
      hanging out of the middle
      of her mouth, about 3/4's
      of it ash.

      Somehow the ash would hang
      there forever without it
      falling in her lap.

      I think she had a private
      game going to see how long she
      could remain still and keep
      the ash from falling. Only
      on very rare occasion would
      she lose the game and
      dump the ash in her lap.

      Once in a while she would
      have to make a funny noise
      with her throat and look
      cross-eyed at her ash,
      and in this way motion to
      someone to rescue her.
      She knew that any movement,
      even trying to reach for
      the ashtray, would knock
      the dried ash off in her lap.

      Thinking back, she must
      have been a yogini.

      Tea, anyone?

      Merry Christmas memories.

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