On Saturday I had the opportunity to attend an international tea. We sipped a variety of teas and coffees while nibbling on sweets from around the globe such as African mandazi and Turkish delight. Each table was decorated with a variety of teapots and teacups. Naturally, I gravitated towards the table with a blue theme.
While enjoying our beverages and treats we were both encouraged and challenged by speakers from other countries. Many cultures use the tea hour as a time to slow down. As one speaker pointed out, we Americans schedule ourselves down to every minute. I'll leave by 3:15 have 20 minutes to run into the store, 5 minutes to drive downtown, 7 more to drive by the ATM, then 12 minutes to get gas before I have to meet so-and-so. Sound familiar? When every last minute is crammed full, we need to reevaluate our use of time.
A speaker from Africa encouraged us to practice going by African time. In Africa if you invite someone for dinner they may arrive at anytime that afternoon and stay for the rest of the day. Dinner is not at 6:00 with your guest arriving by 6:05. You get there when you get there and the time is spent enjoying the people you are with. Time slows, or rather, becomes unimportant. On African time your schedule is left open and flexible to meet the needs of the situation. Perhaps you take time to help a stranger, call a friend or drop by just to say hello. Rather than going by the tick of the clock you simply go with the flow of life.
No matter how much there is to do or how packed the schedule is many cultures stop once or twice a day to sit down with a cup of tea. It is important to take time to pause and reflect each day. We must spend our time wisely. Sometimes making the most of the time means leaving open time or scheduling some unscheduled time. Does that make sense? I can't get express it nearly as well as this woman did. I wish you had been there to listen, it was such a blessing to sit back with a cup of tea and listen to her encouragement.
Much like the unexpected win at the pie contest this summer, I also won a prize here. (Hmm, I might have to stop saying I never win anything.) I happened to sit in one of 4 chairs with a sticker on the bottom granting me a door prize. Inside my gift bag was teacup stationary and a scarf. I couldn't help but smile that they were both blue. I love it when things work out that way.
I also love the idea of being more mindful of my time. It will take some purposeful effort on my part to practice African time. Pausing to enjoy a cup of tea, coffee or cocoa while spending some time in quite reflection, prayer and thanksgiving is the perfect place to start. How will you use the time you've been given today?
Food for Thought: (So many of Ann's quotes are appropriate for today, I couldn't choose just one. Maybe you can find the time to read all three.)
"I don't really want more time; I just want enough time. Time to breathe deep and time to see real and time to laugh long, time to give You glory and rest deep and sing joy and just enough time in a day not to feel hounded, pressed, driven or wild to get it all done yesterday."
"Hurry always empties a soul."
"Life is so urgent it necessitates living slow."