Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Theology in a Tea Cup

It's Tuesday again and time to link up with all those lovely tea parties that whisk us away to a gentler, kinder place, where the pot of tea is always fresh, everyone is on their best behaviour, and all the world's problems can be easily solved over a steaming cup of Darjeeling or Earl Grey.  The only dilemma is whether or not to have a slice of lemon or a drop of milk!

Tea is being served at:

Martha's Favorites
Rose Chintz Cottage & Inspirations
The Plumed Pen
Lady Katherine Tea Parlor
Artful Affirmations

And of course, tea is being served right here.  Today, my inspiration came from a poem that I recently read.  I read it once, and then again, and then had to read it one more time.  Actually, over the last few weeks, I've returned to it again and again, and I am still pondering the meaning.


All day long
She has been arranging our welcome:

Scouring down the house,
Sweeping under beds,
Pulling out the old crocheted counterpanes,
Shining glasses and tableware,
Dusting sideboards and picture frames.

Now she sits in a deep chair
Till we come crunching down the beeches
To the door.


Nice, isn't it?  Sort of creates an instant feeling of coziness and love.  You just know that when you arrive at that door, you are a welcome guest!  But why has it caught my attention so deeply?  Well, it's because of the title.  Here ... I'll give you the whole poem one more time, but this time, I'll include the title.

God


All day long
She has been arranging our welcome:


Scouring down the house,
Sweeping under beds,
Pulling out the old crocheted counterpanes,
Shining glasses and tableware,
Dusting sideboards and picture frames.

Now she sits in a deep chair
Till we come crunching down the beeches
To the door.

Ah ... doesn't that title change the whole poem?  I'm enthralled by the idea.  I actually have no problem with the idea of God being a woman ... because I think God is a spirit being - neither male, nor female.  I also think that since God created both men and women, both genders are reflections of who He/She is.  Anyway, the poem really got me thinking, and this morning I began to wonder about something - if God invited me over for tea, which tea cup would She choose for me to use?

I decided on this one:




The pattern "Memory Lane" is by Royal Albert and consists of delicate blue forget-me-nots circling pristine white china.   I purchased this tea cup and saucer as a gift for my Grandmother for her 80th birthday.   Born in England, my Grandma was a great tea drinker and loved to drink her tea out of a fine bone china tea cup.  I wanted her to have something special to drink her tea from, that would be particularly beautiful.  When she passed away several years ago, the cup and saucer came back to me, and of course they really have become part of "Memory Lane" now because they always remind me of my Grandma.

But why did I chose this particular cup and saucer when I was thinking about that poem?   

Well, contrary to mythological beliefs, all grandmothers are not sweet darling little old ladies who never do anything wrong!  My grandmother had a temper.  She wasn't perfect.  She was human.  And although I'm sure there are many elderly couples who have nothing but goodness and light to say about each other, my grandparents could raise bloody hell, if you'll excuse the expression.  

One day when I was visiting, I happened to notice that my Grandma was using the Memory Lane tea cup with a different saucer.  She explained, with a rather odd look on her face, that the saucer had broken.  Looking at her hands, all gnarled and stiff with arthritis, I assumed she must have accidentally dropped the saucer and I decided immediately that I would get her a replacement.  I mentioned my intent to my Grandad later that day.  He told me Grandma didn't deserve a new saucer.  Apparently they had a big fight and she had thrown the saucer at him and that is how it broke.

I got quiet for a moment when my Grandad told me the story.  Then I looked him in the eye and told him that I was going to go ahead with my plan to replace the saucer.  I said to him, "Grandad, love isn't something we give because it's deserved, it's something we give because it is the very nature of love."  The thing is, I didn't love my grandmother less because she had temper.  I didn't feel she deserved the tea cup and saucer because she turned 80 but didn't deserve a replacement because she deliberately broke it.  I gave the cup as a gift because I loved her.  And love isn't supposed to be conditional.

That's a lesson I learned, not from my grandparents, but from my God.  See, I'd like to claim the idea of unconditional love as one of my own, but truthfully, I only understand a glimpse of it through the grace of God.   When I read that poem, I think of how God so patiently waits for each one of us to come and spend some time with Her, eagerly preparing in advance for our visit, longing for the moment when we arrive.  And She loves us unconditionally, each and every one of us, not because we have done something to earn it, but simply because God is love.

I am glad to say my Grandma eventually came to an understanding of that Divine Love.  After spending the first 86 1/2 years of her life as an atheist, she became a believer in the last 6 months of her life.  And the amazing thing is God didn't love her less when she was an atheist than He did after she became a believer.  He loved her from the moment time began and will love her through all eternity.  Because God is love.

(The poem "God" is one I discovered in a book called Irish Mist written by Father Andrew Greeley.  I'm not sure if he is the author, or if it was written by someone else.)

17 comments:

  1. That is a great poem -- especially when the title is added. Quite unexpected, yet quite in keeping with everything that we do happen to know about God. Lovely post.

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  2. Ha! Love it! Your grandmother sounds just like me...PLUS I intend to stop being an atheist too when I turn 85. She may not have been demure, but at least she was unforgettable.

    As for the poem - perhaps God is a mother figure...after all, mothers give life and God is its source, right?

    Very thought-provoking post you've got there, my dear. As usual.

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  3. This was the perfect post to start my day! Thanks, Ro!

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  4. I have always loved the Memory Lane china! Love the delicate blue pattern! How lovely it had belonged to your grandmother, with her temper and all! I'm happy she made her peace with God before she left this earth and i'm glad you have your memories. Thank you for joining me for tea today. I always enjoy your posts! Have a wonderful week, my friend.

    Blessings,
    Sandi

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  5. Hello Ro- What a lovely post. One of my favorite quotes of all time shockingly came from the movie ‘Crow” it is “Mother is the name for God on the hearts and lips of children”. Your poem reminded me of it. My Grandmum was also a bit of a spit fire, and while she denied us till two years before her death, I will always love her. Because like you said, love is unconditional. Take care.

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  6. Sounds like your grandmother was human, Ro! Thanks for inviting us to tea. Lovely post. Happy tea day.

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  7. That was maybe your best post yet Ro. Really loved it. So many messages. I was still in that thoughtful frame of mind when I hit Purple Cow's comment and couldn't help but burst out laughing and followed that up with a snicker. Now I am shaking my head and moaning a little. Someday it would be lovely for the three of us to sit around a table and enjoy a cup of tea. Now, that day would be blogworthy indeed. Just don't bring out the good stuff. I would feel bad about anything that needed replacing...

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  8. Lovely post. And your tea cup and saucer as well. I do love Forget Me Nots on a cup! Terri G. also has a cup with them on today too, and mine has some on it as well. So we are all thinking alike today!
    Thank you so much for sharing with us.
    Hugs,
    Terri

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  9. Ro, I agree with all of the others! This is a great post!
    Have a pretty day!
    Kristin

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  10. Following from blog hop...would love to have you follow back!
    http://funfritzfamily.blogspot.com/

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  11. What a wonderful post!! thanks so much for sharing!!

    Debbie

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  12. It's me again! I just wanted to stop by to tell you how much I appreciate your kind words about our sweet Savanna. Thanks so much for visiting me!!

    Hugs,
    Debbie

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  13. Lovely words and post~ Sorry I am late,Theresa

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  14. Hi Ro, Your unconditional love is amazing . . enjoyed your posting. Ro, when you speak to me over my blog I can feel your faith, the love you have for God, truly you are a good servant. Thanks so much for your words of kindness to me. They really touch my heart. God Bless You Ro . . Sandy:O)

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  15. Mine wasn't so sweet either and I've always been ashamed of that fact. But she was human and had a difficult life too and my mother wasn't her favorite either, so...

    God's grace is amazing isn't it? I've just given you an award over on my blog, so come and get it...but I can't get over this blog - your admission is overwhelming me for some reason. Great blog.

    Haupi

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  16. Hi: Love the tea cup. There is a book called "The Shack", you might be interested in the female view of God the author offers. Have a great day. Blessings, Martha

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  17. What beautiful poems and I really love the tea cup! I'm so glad about your Grandma! What a great story!

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