I did my very best to stay awake until something of a normal time, and then to sleep until another humane hour. I bypassed rising at 1 and 3 am. 5 am was the very best I could do. Not bad after 26 hours of transit time and a 10.5 hour time difference. (how about that half hour!?!?) It will be a day of reentry, unpacking, laundry, pictures, stories, and gifts, sifting through emails, preparing for church and seminary work.
But first, a cup of chai, a blissful reminder of all of the complex things I saw and felt in India and of all of the beautiful hospitality offered and received by beautiful, generous, loving, open hearts in India. My view of tea and hospitality will never be the same. In fact I am searching for ways to include tea hospitality in my ministry. How is it that we can slow down enough to be fully present to those we encounter? To hear, learn and enjoy the other in our midst as the reflection of our common God's creative genius and Kingdom...tea seems to be an ingredient to me.
While in India, I shared tea over hotel breakfasts where it was served by local staff who kept us wrapped in creature comfort. I shared tea with various leaders who are doing justice, seeking mercy and walking humbly with God who bears many names. Special thanks here to Santosh George and his wife Atula and son, Phillip and Kojari Peacock and their twins, Paul Divakar and his staff who plied us with hot tea and hot food as our jet-lagged bodies absorbed the record-breaking chill on our first night in Delhi. I shared tea in a Muslim village outside of Delhi with tribal leaders and veiled women, and with Hindu women learning leadership in a village outside of Kolkata. I shared tea with fellow students of theology preparing to serve as missionaries and pastors. I shared tea with families whose children were born with club foot who are finding hope in a cure that will eliminate their child's disability and stigma. I shared tea with Swami Agnivesh who exuded peace and openness to the world from his very pores. I shared tea with social workers, with an artist who opened her home and gallery to us on the auspicious occasion of the Indian new year, with an interfaith group of leaders seeking peace through dialogue, with our travel agents family... And with a marvelous group of new friends from WTS. That's a lot of tea.
And I hope it is only the beginning of sharing life over tea.