The way of things

A Japanese woman’s long face, wrinkled with age. Her hair, black and in place. Solemn. Mature. Wise. She does not speak, but waits.

She wears her best kimono. It is a formal dark-blue and she has worn it since she was a young bride of only fifteen. It is very appropriate for one who waits.

Soon he will come, the one she is waiting for. She will serve him tea. She is a Tea Mistress and her abode is this tea house, where she waits. This tea house that is seven generations old. But now she waits.

She never smiles for smiling is not in her nature. She knows the things she knows, how her karma has brought her to this life. And she is serene.

She was born to a rice farmer in the north. It was cold there, very cold during the winter season, cold enough to write a haiku about. She remembers the chill of that place, how she could never get it out of her bones, that chill. But that was the way of things there.

When the war took her son, she knew it was the way of things.

After her husband dishonored himself and his Emperor, surrendering his command to the Americans, he committed seppuku, the ceremonial disembowelment. She knew it was the way of things and she was serene.

When she was chosen to be the Tea Mistress of this Tea House, she knew it was the way of things. She was serene.

Now she stands here in her best kimono, the one her father gave her fifty years ago; she stands in this seven-generations-old tea house and she is serene as she waits for him.

Soon the Emperor will come. And he will come to drink her tea. And she will be serene. It is the way of things

Mother Tao and Honorable Monkey

This is the beginning of all things. Ah so.

First, Honorable Saucer.

Next, Honorable Cup.

Then Heavenly Tea. ah so minty, ah so warm, is poured into Honorable Cup.

Mother Tao lifts Heavenly Tea to Her Honorable Lips and drinks, sets Honorable Cup back down on Honorable Saucer. Out of the Tea pops a Child, a beautiful brown Monkey.

Ah so, this Monkey the Trickster God.

Honorable Monkey sits in the soothing Tea and wonders, “What can I do to play a trick on Mother Tao?”

Ah so.

Honorable Monkey ducks back into Heavenly Tea. Mother Tao searches. She searches everywhere for Honorable Monkey Child.

“Here I am,” Honorable Monkey sticks his head out of the Tea, laughing and clapping.

But Mother Tao is sad.

“Why you so sad?” Honorable Monkey asks. Mother Tao does not speak. Honorable Monkey knows why Mother Tao is so sas. She is alone, except for Honorable Monkey Child. Honorable Monkey thinks about this, and thinks and thinks and thinks some more. He thinks until he falls asleep and sleeps for a Thousand Years. This is why sleep time is known as the Thousand Year Rest.

“Ah so,” Honorable Monkey wakes and says, then he laughs his most mischievous laugh. He jumps against the side of Honorable Cup and Honorable Cup tips over and Heavenly Tea spills out onto the Cosmos. Honorable Monkey sneezes.

Ah choo!

Gods and goddesses appear, swimming in the Tea, running through the Cosmos. Soon there are many gods and many goddesses. Mother Tao smiles. She is no longer alone.

“Thank you, Honorable Monkey.” Mother Tao is happy, and surprised, pleasantly surprised.

But soon the gods and goddesses choose up sides. Soon there is a War and it rages a Thousand Years. Mother Tao is so sad. Tears well up into Her Eyes. So many Tears that it begins to rain. It rains and rains and rains.

One of the gods, the Jade Emperor, breaks off a piece of porcelain from Honorable Saucer and it becomes his Raft. On this raft is the Jade Emperor and his Ten Wives, each more beautiful than the other. The rest of the gods and the goddesses drown. Only the Raft of the Jade Emperor with the Eleven upon it float on the Sea of Heavenly Tea.

After a journey of ten thousand miles, the Jade Emperor lands on a mountain. There he builds himself a luxurious Palace. Also he builds Palaces for each of his Ten Wives. Each morning the Jade Emperor walks to the August Heavenly Tea House near his Palace and watches his Uncle the Sun appear across the Eastern Sky. From the Tea House he smiles down upon his children, the sons and daughters of the human race.

Each Spring his children honor their Father, the Jade Emperor. Each Summer they honor his Ten Wives. Each Autumn they honor Mother Tao. Each Winter when the world is covered with ice and snow, and it is bitter cold, they honor Honorable Monkey Child the Trickster God. They know he is hiding in the Heavenly Tea but will pop out soon with his “Ah so.” Then it shall be Spring again as it has been for Ten Thousand Years.

Ah so.

A haiku moment

Who is to say where a poem comes from.

Sometimes a poem sneaks up on me and knocks me in the head. It’s always a surprise when it does. Which isn’t very often . I smile my thanksgiving, knowing what a gift the poem is. And when it’s a haiku, it’s even better.

This one came out of nowhere. I had just poured hot water over the teabag and let the cup of tea simmer in the warm water. Staring into the tea, there were a number of things reflecting back at me: my face, a pond I had swam in when I was in my early teens, a teacher who had dispensed wisdom the way a vending machine dispenses chocolate. Then again, sometimes I stare into a cup of tea, and all I see is a cup of tea.

Trying to think of what it meant–this moment that stopped eternity–I found this poem come into my mind.

a cup of tea
just a cup of tea
and nothing more


haiku for the day: morning light

We get caught up in all the busy work. We have chores that just have to be done. The dishes need washing. The laundry needs doing. The cats need feeding. The kids need to go to ballet or boxing class. There’s shopping to do. There’s meetings to go to. And this is when we are not at our jobs. We are busy people. And we are so stressed out our relationships suffer. Our health suffers. If we could just slow down for thirty minutes to enjoy. To just enjoy. 

a spoon reflecting
morning light through the window
a cup of mint tea

haiku for the day: patience

Life is filled with details. Small moments each of us soon forget. To be replaced by the big moments. As a writer, it’s the details that count, those small moments that reveal much about a character. How that character sits a spoon on the table. How that character drinks a cup of coffee. Perhaps it will be those small moments we will remember when we have moved on. One thing is for sure. A haiku celebrates a small moment:

the cup sits alone
on the counter waiting on
hot water for tea