tea and sympathy

Winter’s arrival in Berlin is imminent – at first the subtle hints went all but unnoticed in the glow of one of the most glorious Autumns I’ve ever experienced. However, there’s no denying that an icy cold, with a propensity for leaving hands and cheeks defensively glowing, has come to town. Every morning as I rummage through drawers looking for gloves and hats to keep this annual guest at bay I find myself wishing that hibernation was part of the human routine as well. My bed has become my favourite place, I try to ignore the alarm clock, cling to the warmth of my duvet and think to myself, “That anyone should ever have to leave the comfort of this haven in this weather is an injustice!” (You’ll have to forgive my “flair” for the dramatic).

Ah! Comfort: that stealthy thing that enters our lives a guest and yet so quickly gets promoted to host and even master (to borrow Kahlil Gibran’s metaphor). As an object of desire comfort is sadly a classic red herring. C.S. Lewis puts it well, “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.”

Billy Graham said, “Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.” Comfort cannot shape or refine us because it has no real substance of its own – the safety it offers is a haze of smoke and mirrors, that blurrs our vision of ourselves and others. When it comes to tackling comfort I think Simone de Beauvoir blazed a trail worth following:  “I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties through my love for truth – and truth rewarded me.”

I am challenged to make what Winston Churchill said my own: “This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.” And resist the trade-off:

“Fare thee well
Trade in all our words for tea and sympathy
Wonder why we tried, for things that could never be
Play our hearts lament, like an unrehearsed symphony

Not intend
To leave this castle full of empty rooms
Our love the captive in the tower never rescued
And all the victory songs
Seem to be playing out of tune

You begin
And all your words fall to the floor and break like china cups
And the waitress grabs a broom and tries to sweep them up
I reach for my tea and slowly drink in

So fare thee well
Words the bag of leaves that fill my head
I could taste the bitterness and call the waitress instead
She holds the answer, smiles and asks one teaspoon or two

But it’s not the way
That it has to be
Don’t trade our love for tea and sympathy” – Jars of Clay, Tea & Sympathy

Disclaimer: All of this being said – I love a cup of tea as much as the next person! Here’s to living courageously, taking tea breaks whenever possible^^

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