Monday Musing ~ Chai Tea for the Tai Chi Master

chai tea framedI served Chai Tea to a Tai Chi Master during a poetry reading last week. It was a sacred moment and quite unexpected. The events of that evening unraveled in a series of missed connections and new discoveries.

Let me explain how the universe conspired to place me in the presence of a Tai Chi Master. For those who follow my blog you know that this is my “Year of Yes” (this introvert is saying yes to invitations and opportunities that I would typically shy away from).

So here is how it began. I recently joined a writer’s group and offered to help fold and mail the spring newsletter. My contact, Lois, a sweet older woman, called and asked to stop by my home to drop off the newsletters but I was on my way to another event (a “year of yes” has filled my calendar). So I suggested we meet later in the day to which she responded, “Do you like poetry, dear?”

“Of course, I do,” I stumbled, wondering if that was true, having never truly grasped the lyrical prose of poetry.

“Wonderful,” she replied. “Then let’s meet at the bookstore in town at 7 pm for the poetry reading. I’ll buy you a cup of coffee,” she offered.

“Um, okay, that sounds lovely,” I replied. Oh dear, what had I gotten myself into?

“Oh, and Sue, if you arrive before I get there please order me a chai tea, no cream.”

“Of course, chai tea, no cream,” I repeated. “I look forward to seeing you, Lois.”

And so it happened that I arrived before 7 pm at the bookstore and ordered an iced coffee for myself and a chai tea, no cream, for Lois. The barista said she would bring the tea to the table after it had steeped for the proper time.

I found my way to the back of the musty old bookstore to a small room filled with books from floor to ceiling. Three older men sat around a long table talking. They fell silent upon my approach.

I introduced myself and explained that Lois had invited me. They welcomed me and offered me a seat. I sat next to an old man with a long white beard, bushy eyebrows, and cloudy blue eyes. He asked my name and I said it three times, moving closer to him with each effort until he responded “Ah, Susan.” He then confessed he was hard of hearing.

The men had been discussing the looming eye surgery of the old man. His cataracts so thick he is rendered nearly blind.

As the men spoke and I listened, several other people arrived and gathered around the table. The barista entered with a small tray, holding a beautiful white teacup and saucer and a small pot of chai tea. She placed the tray of tea on the table in front of me. It was 7 pm, Lois must be running late, I thought. The old man called the poetry meeting to order.

He asked if I had a poem to read. I responded, “Oh goodness, no. I’m just here to listen and learn.”poetry framed

And so the old man went around the room inviting others to read their poems. The man named “Shadow” read powerful poems of history and war, and girls in knee-high boots. The big man with the beard read romantic poems of love and loss and moonlit nights. The man named Noah read poems of nature, hiking, and guns. They read, critiqued and discussed each poem at length.

And then the old man, blinded by cataracts and nearly deaf, recited his poem on Infinity, from memory. I was awestruck. He recited several more of his poems, pausing for effect, his prose musical and enchanting.

His poem on Silence held me spell-bound. Afterward, he explained the importance silence plays in our world, based on his experience with Tai Chi. (Have I mentioned I’ve always wanted to learn Tai Chi?)

The old man recounted the opening of the Beijing Summer Olympics where over two-thousand Chinese performed Tai Chi in silence. I was transfixed by his words, his quiet, calm, yet powerful energy.  I inquired of his experience with Tai Chi. He explained that he had studied the art of Tai Chi with the Grand Master, William Chen.

William Chen, Tai Chi Grand Master

William Chen, Tai Chi Grand Master

The old man said, humbly, that he had been studying and teaching Tai Chi for over 45 years and was simply a Tai Chi Master, not a Grand Master.

I glanced down at the teapot on the table, an hour had passed, still no Lois. I offered the tea to the old man and he graciously accepted.

I reached over and placed the teacup and saucer in front of him. As I poured the tea from the pot he took a deep breath and smiled. “Smells delicious. Thank you, Susan, you are too kind,” he said, lifting the teacup to his lips.

It was in that moment, goosebumps covered my body and I knew I was in the presence of a great spiritual master. I recalled the saying:

“When the student is ready, the teacher appears”

And so, in the spirit of saying “yes” to the universe, I took my first Tai Chi lesson yesterday from the old man. I learned about “effortless effort” and “investment in loss”. I also learned the first three movement sets of Tai Chi, slowly, with patience, as the master guided me.Tai Chi moves

As for my friend Lois, she called to apologize for missing the poetry reading. Yet I am grateful for her invitation and the opportunity to pour tea for my new teacher. And who knows, I may just learn to make words sing like a poet while mastering the power of silence, balance, and patience through the art of Tai Chi.

Wishing you all a magical Monday!

~ Namaste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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25 thoughts on “Monday Musing ~ Chai Tea for the Tai Chi Master

  1. I was captivated by your Monday Musing as I am with everything you’ve written. This one gave me goosebumps thinking about how powerful our intentions are. It brought to mind this scripture: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

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  2. Wow! I am sure it must have been an amazing experience. Good that you said all the “YES” which led you to the fruition of your intention of learning Tai Chi. I have been curious about Tai Chi too.Would like to hear more about it after couple of more classes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Being a poet, you know I loved this piece and your play on words! My youngest is a huge Tai Chi fan/practitioner and would heartily endorse your practice, because her mama just can’t slow down enough to do it … yet. 😉 Aloha.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this beautiful post. The saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears” has been a recurring theme in my life over the past few months. I am not sure yet where it is leading but am excited for the journey and trying to make space in my life to be more of a student. An introvert saying “yes” more often is something that really resonates with me. It is so hard to put myself in new situations and meet new people, yet more often than not it is so worth it.

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    • Thank you for reading. I’m glad my story resonated with you. I just finished my second Tai Chi lesson! I’m so glad I’ve been saying “yes” this year…it seems there are lessons around every corner! Blessings to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I tried Tai Chi. I paid $200 to join our local Taoist Tai Chi chapter. I signed up for the “beginners weekend” – 3 days of intense immersion in Tai Chi.
    Man, did I suck at it big time. Never went back. I couldn’t follow the steps to save my life.
    I think I’ll try yoga next.
    At least I can do that at my own snail’s pace.
    By the way….you remind me of Sarah Palin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL, my dad told me I looked like her once when she was running as vp, I’ll take that as a compliment even though I differ with her politics. As for tai chi, I’m learning one set of moves a week for nine weeks – it’s harder than I expected but I’m gonna try and hang in there! Thanks for reading my post!

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  6. I am honored you have emailed me a response to my post. Although I feel it was not that one post. Very few have courage to be kind to a rabble rouser.
    I am like my teacher in that I do not love like most people think loving must look like. I do not make those I love feel comfortable in their present skin because spiritual and emotional strength comes from expansion and I know for myself it took me 45 years of being uncomfortable to finally accept my expansion.. I was That Girl 1.0. I remain the same , with megaphone in hand saying yes to making everyone uncomfortable because the universe loves me and says I can. So I must.
    I now collect information on the issue of the alleged dumbing down of education in America. Wish me luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah. I am glad you recognized you teacher.
    I found one teacher in the form of a badly mistreated dog. I had it in a yard,on a leash. The dog would thrash and gnarl its lips and growl and bark at me if I came even in its vision. What I wanted was a dog that trusted I would not hurt it and would sit peaceful beside me. Long story short, for less than a year I inched closer daily, to that dog till finally I could take the chain off and feed it and sit next to it.
    I think it might be that I extinguished the operant terror training it had received. I learned to persevere in the face of a frightening facade.

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