Even as I write the date at the start of this post, I had to double check that the world had actually tipped into Monday and it wasn’t still, in fact, Sunday night. I am not usually awake at this time of day, but the crazy winter winds are to thank for that. They have been on and off for weeks and I think we’ve already managed to work our way through the first six letters of the alphabet to name the storms that have battered the United Kingdom since the start of 2022 (And why do we even do that?! Is the naming of a storm just to make it seem more friendly, personal, less destructive?! Who knows!)
After lying in bed for some time, listening to the howling wind and rain getting splattered on our bedroom window, I decided it was time to get up and start the day. Truth be told, although I don’t make a regular habit of pre 5am get ups, I do love the peace and quiet that graces the early morning hours. It promises stillness, calm and options in how that time can be used.
Of course, the battle of will and mind is real – the temptation to start ‘getting ahead’ with the day: putting the washing on early, sorting out that annoying tupperware cupboard where the lids never seem to find their matching bottom (how does that happen?!), clearing away yesterday’s dirty washing up. But the most precious use for this time for me is to use it to meet with God. To still my heart in the quiet of the day to hear what He wants to say to me, what daily bread He wants to give me, and to give my thoughts, feelings and diary for the day to Him. To know a little bit more of the reality of the blessing of God’s command to me to ‘be still and know that I am God’.
For me personally, this time is always characterised by a cup of tea. It’s something to entice me out of bed, something warm to wrap my heads around when it’s too early for the central heating to have kicked in and is a symbol of friendship and sacrificed time. Just like when I meet a friend, I sit down and have a hot drink; I give them my attention, listen to them and share with them. So it is with Jesus. I sit with Him, not rushing on into my day, but I actually sit. I sit for as long as I have before the kids clatter down the stairs when their clocks announce to them that the day has officially started (at 6.45am in our house…very precise!). I sit with the comfort of my warm drink and His presence, being together. Sometimes I do more talking and less listening – but this is something I am hopefully growing in.
This morning I was struck that a pot of tea would be needed, not just a cup. A cup is my standard, it represents a portion of time and what I would usually have with a friend too – but a pot, or a cafetiere if you’re more of a coffee person, represents something more. It says ‘I’m going to be here a while’. It’s what I’d bring down from the top kitchen shelf when a friend comes for a cuppa and it’s been a long time, there’s lots of catching up to do or when I know there’s lots of anticipated heart sharing. A cafetiere in the middle of the table alongside the special Sabbath day breakfast speaks of lingering, enjoying the more relaxed pace at the start of the day rather than rushing into school uniform changes and last-minute dashes up to school. It symbolises a moment.
I felt this prompting today as I broke the tradition of the standard morning cup. As the howling wind provided my earlier than anticipated alarm clock, I was aware of the many thoughts that flooded my mind as I lay in bed. How was that friend doing who I noticed at church yesterday and seemed a little down? How would the week pan out with half term kids’ activities, house decluttering and play dates? Would I get the balance right between ticking things of my personal ‘to do’ list and slowing down to enjoy the kids, helping them to rest and enjoying precious family time? Were we going to make it to our highly anticipated belated 10- year anniversary holiday time (without the kids!) without germs or Covid? Had God given me any more direction as I had sought him for wisdom and direction on my next steps? How was I going to rest this week? How is my non-Christian friend doing, was God going to give me anything to share with her when I see her later on in the week? How could I show Jesus to her?
As those closest to me know well, my thoughts are often many and full – ranging from significant to far less life-changing. My danger point comes when I sit with them myself too long. That’s when it can all seem too much, anxiety can flood in and I don’t even know where to start in processing them. That’s when the pot of tea comes in. The pot of tea that gently beckons “Come and sit a while longer than normal, you need this”. Obviously, that isn’t the teapot’s voice that has magically come to life, but the heart of God that it represents. Lingering longer, choosing to drag myself however much I’m kicking and screaming to sit a while longer, to give as many of my thoughts, concerns, hopes and plans to him as I can. And if I haven’t finished by the time I see the bottom of the cup, there’s a pot providing more hot tea goodness.
Jesus didn’t rush. He didn’t hurry. He took himself away to pray – especially in the busy times. He went out early in the morning, he went out onto a hillside, onto a boat, to a secluded part of the garden. He withdrew to be still with His Heavenly Father. I imagine if Jesus were a tea drinker, then He would definitely be a pot rather than cup man.
Maybe you need this today. To hear the invitation of the pot of tea; the ‘be still and know that I am God’. Where can you find your boat, your garden, your hillside today? There are always moments, sometimes we just need to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal where they are.