Many, many years ago in what now feels like a whole other life, maybe even a dream, I went on an elementary school trip to Niagara Falls. As beautiful as the sights were, the memory that stands out from that day is finding a little red ceramic tea pot and using all of my pocket money to buy it as a souvenir for my Mom. Red was her favourite colour and for some strange reason, this little tea pot seemed the perfect gift. She was delighted with it and for 30+ years this little red tea pot sat proudly in the prized middle spot of the top shelf of a shelving unit that sat between the kitchen and dining room. I realized many, many years later that Mom rarely ever drank tea, but it didn’t matter, she loved that little red pot.
When my Mom passed away in 2001, one of the knick-knacks that I most wanted – no, NEEDED – was that little red tea pot. But unlike my Mom, I did use it, and have been using it every day since to steep my morning tea. It’s only big enough to make one cup, plus a little extra for hubby to throw in his gravy later in the day. The tea that comes out of that little pot is the best I’ve ever tasted. And for that reason, we never wash the inside of that tea pot (traditionally you’re never supposed to wash the inside of the pot, you just rinse out the old leaves.) As I was washing the outside of the pot this morning, it got me to thinking about the history of this pot and how much pleasure it has given out of those dark inner depths. And then my thoughts segwayed to my own dark inner depths and how hard I’ve tried, over the years, to scrub out the black stains that I believe to be in there.
[I think now, in hindsight, that I may well have suffered from scrupulosity for many years. I won’t go into THOSE murky depths, but suffice to say that it wasn’t easy being me, and I’m glad that I don’t think that way anymore. Well, maybe there is still some residue, but overall I’ve come a long way from that level of self-castigation – and in my understanding of Grace and Mercy.]
I’m not sure that it’s always beneficial to go stomping through those inner depths with fierce determination to hack away at what we perceive to be our flaws, or to scrub with such vigour at our perceived inner stains. I think, now, after years of doing precisely that within my own psyche, that we risk ripping ourselves apart at the seams, so to speak. And I think that THOSE wounds, the wounds that we inflict upon our own selves through our well-intentioned but unkind ruthlessness, take much longer to heal because as we go in there, hacking and scrubbing away, we are telling ourselves all sorts of ugly “truths” about ourselves that in all likelihood are NOT truths at all, but lies that people have been telling us all of our lives and that we have bought into…when the lies become too intolerable for us to live by, when we buy into the fear that we are beyond redemption, we desperately delve into those depths believing we have to eradicate the stains in order to be acceptable and worthy.
At some point we have to come to peace with our journey and self, and realize that sometimes the best way to deal with those dark inner depths is with appreciation for all the gifts and goodness that have been steeped in there. It’s out of our history and the unique blending and steeping together of our experiences (good and bad), the evolution of our thought processes as we make our way through those experiences and the lessons learned along the way that make us wiser wounded healers today. It’s out of our own pain and stains that we are able to find the compassion and wisdom to help others as they grapple with THEIR pains and stains.
Instead of scrubbing out the pot, I can allow myself to view those dark inner depths in a completely different light…instead of seeing what I previously perceived as ugly and disgusting, I can see how the journeying has evolved into this rich steeped wisdom now pouring out from within those depths – that’s gift!
I love a good cup of tea. I love the idea of BEING good steeped tea. Embrace the steeping!