I'm clearing the cups from the table, the memory of our lovely conversation lingering. My sister-in-law has just left. To take her daughter, my-nearly-two-year-old-lively-niece-who-we-were-minding-all-day, home.
There's something about the ritual that surrounds making a simple cup of tea. A moment to sit. To connect. To be present to each other; to pay attention and to reflect on our day through conversation.
As I made the pot of tea, I paid close attention to the ritual that this is. It's the special tea, reserved for special people. Barry's Irish Tea, not grown in Ireland but blended magically in Cork! My mother brings it over regularly and we store it in a special tin labelled - Barry's Tea ONLY! It's important that this special tea has it's own special container.
I fill up the kettle and switch it on. Allowing the water to boil. As it does so, I prepare the tea pot, cups and milk. This is the process that I follow over and over again. It's like a dynamic meditation.
I scald the pot - this very important and sometimes overlooked step makes all the difference to the quality of the cup of tea. Tea drinkers reading this will know what I mean. This involves swirling the freshly boiled water around in the pot to heat it up, and then pouring it out. I add 2 tea spoons of Barry's loose leaf tea. Followed by the boiled water. I fill the tea pot to the top. Place the lid on and tea cosy (very important feature!).
I bring cosied pot to the table where the empty cups are waiting for the tea to draw; to infuse into the lovely blend that makes this Irish Tea so special. I stir the pot and, through a strainer (so my guest isn't surprised by the tea leaves on her final sip), pour the tea, filling each cup, topped with milk.
I hand one cup to my sister-in-law and, savouring mine, I continue with our conversation.
All of this takes mere minutes, yet feels like a very mindful ritual every time. As I go through the process, I remember again that the pot, the strainer, the cosy, the cups, are all gifts from family and are therefore all a part of this ritual. Welcomed in and remembered.
At our workshop this week, a delegate talked about the importance of ritual in their office as a way of creating a mentally health workplace. Tuesdays are 'Toast Tuesdays'! It led us to an interesting discussion on the connecting nature of rituals at work. Small acts to step out of our work processes; to lift our heads from our keyboards and take a breath; a pause; a moment. To look our colleagues in the eyes.
A team huddle; a coffee; a team breakfast; time spent in a quiet space; a quiet room; something that you can do over and over again so we feel like we belong. We're human be-ings. With a desire to deepen our connection with our colleagues, with our work families. To belong.
What are your rituals? At work? At home?
How important are these rituals for you?
What difference do these make for you?
"Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation. The kettle is singing even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots have left their arrogant aloofness and seen the good in you at last. All the birds and creatures of the world are unutterably themselves. Everything is waiting for you." - David Whyte