TEA BAGS AND FAITH LESSONS – A Short Story

Back in 2012, I joined Pam Ford Davis’ group Tea Pot Testimony on Facebook.  In one of her posts, Pam asked what one does with a cup of tea that is full of bits of tea due to a broken tea bag.  As I thought about my answer, the idea for this story was born.  The memory of that first cup of tea is my own, shared with my mom and my Gramma Olcott when I was small.

Gramma went home to be with the Lord many years ago, and this past Saturday marked two years since my mom’s death.   I miss them both so much, and while trying to decide what to post for today’s fiction, I chose to re-post this story in their memory.

MOM & GRAMMA O OCT, 1988 b - Copy2

*   *   *   *   *

I stared out the window as the tea kettle began to steam, lost in thoughts of past tea times.  It was on afternoons such as this that made the emptiness of my heart pulse with an ache born of loss and grief.

Many had been the days when the three of us would settle at the scarred farmhouse table with a steaming pot of tea and whatever baked goods Gramma had whipped up for our time together.  Three generations of Olcott women, sharing hopes and dreams over spicy ginger snaps, dark molasses cookies or scones.

Many were the lessons learned as I sat with my mother and grandmother.  Learning the proper way to brew a pot of tea, learning the lessons of being a Godly wife and mother.

I remembered the day I had first been invited to join the gathering, growing the number to the three of us.  I had been just a child, secretly thrilled with the tiny cup and saucer that had been set in front of me.  I had watched in awe as the cup was filled half full of steaming tea, then watched as a spoon of sugar and a liberal amount of milk had been added.

I smiled slightly as I relived the moment of that first sip, the unimaginable pleasure of being allowed to share in such an adult ritual.  All these years later, no other cup of tea ever equaled the taste perfection of that first cup.

The tiny hiss of sound steadily grew until it reached an ear-piercing whistle.  I reached out and turned the knob to shut off the burner.   As I lifted the kettle to pour the water into the pot, tears stung the backs of my eyes, even as I smiled mistily.

When I had filled the pot and set the kettle back on the stove, I lifted the tiny ceramic lid and settled it back on the pot, closing in the scent and heat.  Lifting the tray, I carried it across the large kitchen and set it on the same old table that had taken up the center of the room for generations.

Even as I settled into my customary chair across from my mother, the emptiness of Gramma’s chair pulled the tears from my eyes to run down my cheeks.  Swiping my hand across my face, I swallowed and lifted the pot to fill the three cups that rested in their matching saucers.

An indrawn gasp filled the kitchen as I looked at the tiny bits of tea which swirled in the cups.

“Oh, no!”

I lifted the bags out of the pot, shaking my head at the large hole in one of them.  I closed my eyes in exasperation, then looked across at my mother.

“Don’t worry about it,”  she told me.  “Just get the strainer.”

I did as I was bid, and poured the tea from the cups back into the pot before using the strainer to catch the tiny bits of tea leaves as I refilled the cups.  As I did so, I was reminded of one of the most prominent lessons that I had learned during our afternoon tea times.

I glanced at the newcomer to the gatherings and studied the young face.  Love swelled in me as I met my daughter’s eyes.

“Did I ever tell you about the time great-gramma had this happen?”  I asked.  When my teenage daughter shook her head in the negative, I recounted the story.

On that afternoon so long ago, the tea bag had also been ripped.  When my grandmother had gone through the same process, she held up the tea strainer and pointed to the tea leaves that lay therein.

“Do you see these tea leaves?”  When I  had nodded, Gramma had continued.  “These tea leaves are like our lives before we accept Jesus as Savior.  They are the sin that fills us and contaminates our souls.  But when we are saved, that sin gets strained from our lives, leaving us with a clean soul and heart, just like the tea in your cup.”

My daughter smiled as she studied the tea in her cup, then grinned.  “Who would have thought that you could learn something about faith just sitting and having tea?”

 

© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2012, 2017

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Thy Will Be Done – Pt. 1

This 12 part story was originally posted in 2012.  I read it over a few days ago,

and decided to re-post it with the hopes of continuing the saga in the near future.

Again, I hope those of you that have not read it already will enjoy it;

I hope those of you that did read it 4 years ago will want to read it again.

Caleb settled deeper into the saddle, looking out over the valley that was spread below him.  As his eyes settled on the distant mountains he wondered, not for the first time, how he had gotten to where he was.

He had learned years ago that life had a habit of curving one direction when you had every intention of going the opposite way.

When past memories started to crowd his thoughts, he deliberately closed them off.  No sense in ruining a good day with thoughts of ‘what-if’.

Sighing, he lightly nudged the bay forward, picking his way through the rocks on the hillside.

As the horse nimbly worked its way to the valley floor, Caleb raised his eyes to the line of smoke that rose from the chimney in the distance; taking in the house and the out-buildings that comprised his spread.

His head eased to one side in a slight movement of disbelief as he contemplated the vast acreage that now belonged to him.

When the war broke out back east, he had joined without hesitation; determined to protect his home and keep the Yankees out of his beloved state.

When the war ended, he had no home to go back to, and his beloved state was in shambles, courtesy of Major General William Tecumseh Sherman.

When the horse reached flat land once again, Caleb eased him into a run that soon ate up the distance and brought them to the barn that housed his other horses.

He made short work of taking care of the animal, and was closing the door to the stall when a low, deep voice came from behind him.

“I was wondering where you had gone off to.”

He turned to look at Jesse, his ranch foreman and best friend.  Ignoring the knowing look in the other man’s eyes, Caleb set the latch on the door and picked up the tack to put it away.

“I was up on the hill, looking for strays.”

Jesse’s grunt of acknowledgment was full of question and awareness.

Caleb sent him a hard look and raised a brow.

“You got something to say?  Say it.”

Jesse shook his head and looked down at the barn floor.  He figured the two of them had been to hell and back over the past ten years, and that had earned him the right to speak his mind.

“Just thought maybe you was remembrin’  and not wantin’ ta’.”

Caleb studied the concerned face before him and heaved out a sigh.

“Jesse, I learned long ago that, unless the Good Lord shows us the ‘whys’ of life, there’s no point in dwelling on what came before.”

Jesse nodded.

“That may be, but it don’t stop the mind from heading in that direction, or the pain from leaving a hole in your chest.”

As they started to crowd his mind, Caleb deliberately closed off visions of the large plantation that his great-grandfather had established a hundred years before because the picture of the glorious white pillared house was soon superimposed with the burned out ruins that had greeted him on his return after five years.

The Lord had allowed him to lose everything dear to him.  For what purpose, he had no idea; but also knew that eventually it would make sense.

© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2012

Part 2 can be found here.

Part 3 can be found here.

Part 4 can be found here.

Part 5 can be found here.

Part 6 can be found here.

Part 7 can be found here.

Part 8 can be found here.

Part 9 can be found here.

Part 10 can be found here.

Part 11 can be found here.

Part 12 can be found here.