Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Tea of Balance and Clarity

As I drove home from Hospice training the other day, all I could think about was the reviving cup of Tea I was going to make as soon as I walked in the door.

There are refreshments served during the morning and afternoon in the conference room where the training occurs. And I could have Tea anytime I wanted.

But there is something about coming home from a long day trying to assimilate all the information we are given, making Tea and sitting down in a favourite chair.

Each time, I swear the World and its troubles recede a little. Tea allows me to meditate, allows me to calm the whirlwind which is creating havoc in my mind.

Tea is the preferred beverage for Monks throughout the World.  In my book of Tea, there is an anecdotal saying:

"The monks of the Chinese Ch'an sect of Buddhists believed that the first cup of Tea helped to keep a calm and clear mind while they sat in meditation. The second cup helped them feel as if the spirit was cleansed by the gentle Rain. After the third cup, one can understand the nature of things."  ...from the book Tea Bliss

I definitely needed to sit and reflect on the nature of things, after a full day in the classroom.  I am no longer able to take in as much as I once did... fibro fog and age, you know. And sometimes, I can feel quite addled trying to keep up with the enormous amount of information involved with the dying.

There is a volume of topics...and some of them bring up swirling feelings inside about my own beliefs and my own reactions to some of those topics. For instance, one day we were required to write down six favourite things and place them face down on the table. And then our instructor, without any knowledge of what was on them, came along and took three of those favourite things. The exercise was to teach us how loss affects us...unique for each individual.

In my case, she happened to take the three favourites which were the dearest in my life. And I reacted with such extreme anger to these losses. Wow.  I cannot begin to describe how inappropriately I reacted.

There was the clue I required that there was a great deal I had not looked at within myself. It was evidence...enough for me to know I had better find the root of that over-the-top flush of anger which had consumed me, during the exercise.

There were more than three cups of Tea drunk during quite a few deep meditations over the next few days to understand where the obscure pool of anger had its source. And of course, that wrath had its beginning when my daughter Katrina died.

It was not pleasant re-visiting the circumstances leading to her death.  I had written scores about it...enough for a order to understand, just as I did when my mother died.  It is how I make sense of crazy-making events.

So.  I thought by writing about it I understood, as much as anyone can, and had let go  But you know what? As I peruse the emotional pages of my writing, I notice anger was rarely mentioned.

And I realized I had blocked that steamy rage into a muffled cocoon deep within my soul. As painful and fraught with anxiety as it is, it is time to let the stinking mass out...and away.  Because even though anger can be beneficial, in this case it was a mouldering mess which hindered me in so many ways.

Not the least of which is anger that can consume me over inconsequential things in inappropriate actions.  If there was ever misplaced anger, this was it.

I have learned over the years that meditation will clear my mind and allow me to go inward, towards my centre, where stillness and serenity reign and the sounds of the World are no more. There the answer would come, floating along in that translucent space...

And it did. I had forgotten...I had misplaced a memory crucial to that anger so recently found.

The anger had its roots in the tribunal I had to face when it became obvious that my daughter, if she was to live, would need transplants...primarily her liver, at that time. The member of the tribunal were made up of doctors and nurses, clergy and social workers. Their job was to determine if Katrina was a good prospect for a transplant.

They asked me to make decisions as to how my daughter would react...would she do all the things required to keep that transplanted organ healthy? What kind of person was she?  What did I think of her? The questions went on and on...

My daughter lay dying...I was already beyond thinking clearly. The only thing I could feel was incredible anger that they would ask a some fairly horrible scenarios they dredged up and ask me to make a decision about her character. If I gave the wrong answer...she might not get that transplant.

I remember being consumed with deep, abiding anger towards these people who were only doing their job. I had little, if any, control over the terrible outcome.

I have never felt so helpless. Just as helpless as I was when someone came along and took my three favourite things.

As I drink my tea, and as I breathe deeply, I write this with peaceful sorrow. Of course, Katrina had progressed too far and all her organs finally shut down, averting the whole transplant issue.

And as events so quickly progressed from the room where the tribunal sat in what I perceived as judgment, I just as quickly tried to forget it. In so doing, I easily buried the anger with which I had been consumed. I was afraid of that anger.  If I let it out, would I still be standing after the holocaust of emotions were let fly?

So.  Today I will brew a special cup of Tea.  I will use a pinch of each of Black, Green and Red Teas, along with a pinch of Chamomile, Mint, Dill and Willow Teas.  I will take the mixture to Grandfather Rock, who has sat waiting for this very event, waiting for me to recognize his benefit in my search for balance, clarity and finally, joy.

I will say a prayer as I sit with him, I will take a drink of the concoction, the mixture of which has special meanings for me, and I will offer the rest to him.

And then, I will finally accept that I am not all-powerful and that I can't always determine the outcome of events. And I will realize it was okay to feel anger at the time, it was okay to mourn deeply.  It is not okay to carry it for all time.

Anger such as this produces tense muscles, gritted teeth, embitterment, along with a host of other physical and emotional problems.

I have been told...when the student is ready, the teacher will come.  

I'd guess I was ready for Hospice and its teachings!

And Grandfather Rock...


  1. Thankyou so much Marion for this ~beautiful~ and amazing post... Your sharing of which i will now go on to share with a friend who has for so long swallowed her anger (50+yrs) and has (co-incidentally?) just made the (i suspect) life changing decision to release... May she find the peace of spirit that you have <3

  2. Marion, I will have more to say about this amazing post but for now I will just say thank you and I love you.

    We are friends.


  3. what a heart breaking experience to have to go through, made worse by the tribunal. You are right about anger. It's hard to let go. I'm so glad you have come to terms.

  4. Your feelings make perfect sense to me. I can understand the way you were questioned, but I don't know if it made sense to ask you such questions. I should think it would be like answering questions at a job interview (although much, much harder of course) in that honesty would not appear to be in your best interest.

    If I were one of those tea drinking monks, I should think the third cup would just make me want to use the bathroom.

    I was curious what KIND of rock it is. I am very much intrigued by rocks, and knowing what kind one is tells me a bit about its origin. Here in western Oregon, the rocks are all fairly new, meaning anywhere from a few hundred years old to 40-million years old. By comparison, the oldest surface rocks on earth are around 4-billion years old, the earth having only formed a half billion years before that and then taken a while to cool.

  5. What an honest, wise, enlightening and beautiful post. You are quite the teacher, Marion. I took a lot of things from this and will use them.

    I was watching a movie last week and a woman's child had died and she said, "When a person loses a spouse, they're a widow. When a child loses her parent, she's an orphan...but there is no word for a parent who loses a child because even the thought of it is unimagineable." I'm sorry for your loss, dear Marion. Love & Blessings...

  6. Nollyposh,

    I'm glad if this post could help someone else. They must be ready to "hear", however, and be ready to take it in. Sometimes, anger can be a survival tool.

    Thank you so much for visiting. I, too, hope your friend finds peace.


    How nice to have you back! As beautiful as Aruba looks to be, it must be nice for you all to be home. xo to you!


    Me, too. The tribunal would come to mind off and on,through the years, but each time I would quickly think of something else. Why return to that time, I would think. I was partially right. I had just forgotten the package of anger which I had left there.


    I can't lie very well...people can always see through me. It might have something to do with the red face and beads of sweat and shaky hands I have when I am being dishonest. lol

    Heh...I never thought of having to pee and being a monk in full meditation. But then again, tea was served in tiny cups...not the large bowl of a cup I use! I can testify that after three cups of tea in my favourite cup I'm in dire straits if I can't get to a bathroom!

    The photo of the stone at the top of this page is igneous rock. We are on glacier till; Grandfather rock is probably granite. There are so many boulders, stones and rock here...everytime I go outside I find another for my collection. Some are pure white with golden stripes, some are red, some are green...all are, in my opinion, simply beautiful. They make me want to hear their stories. I wish you could visit and tell me what their origins are. I know they were brought by the glaciers, which pressed down on the original clay soil, and as they receded, the glaciers left the boulders and rocks behind, making this area absolute heaven for a rock hound.


    I have never thought of that...The no word for a parent who has lost a child. The most difficult thing for me, I think, is when I'm asked how many children I have. I always say two. But then it opens the conversation as to what happened to one of my children. I have learned that just to say...she too harsh and shocking for the questioner, it leaves them very uncomfortable and I feel for them. I have yet to find a good answer.

  7. This is such a heartbreaking and at the same time uplifting post! I am so sorry you had to lose your daughter; glad you found the source of that abiding anger. How true that at the time, those feelings are right but that to carry them for all time only damages us. Hoping your new found peace becomes your constant companion.

  8. You must have been ready to get so much insight. I tend to hold in anger and try to forget uncomfortable issues. Maybe some time I'll be brave enough to get a cup of tea and take a closer look. - Marby

  9. Dear Marion:

    How lucky you are to recognize what needs to be done with the information your anger has given you. You are so wise in your many ways. I want to say congratulations, even though it seems inappropriate ... but growth and transformation do call for celebrating too.

    Good luck on your journey to Grandfather Rock. I get the feeling that he will be a good teacher for you.

    Thank you for talking so openly about your experience. I am in awe of how open your heart was when you wrote this post. I could feel it through my computer screen - thank you.

  10. What a beautiful post...quite literally brought a few tears to my eyes. I have yet to suffer the grief of losing a loved one,it's painful for me to even begin to imagine it. I think the way you have described this reaslisation of anger, and the subsequent use of meditation and offering to the rock is really moving. I love rocks, I feel time through them and they are all over the house. Take care Marion x

  11. Pauline,

    I'm glad the post is uplifting. I hesitated posting it; I have written about Katrina before and each time it has released something I no longer require. But it is a sad subject, and not everyone likes to read about it. But I'm so glad that dark anger is on its way out!

    Powell River Books,

    A good cuppa Tea is amazing in giving clarity. But you're right...I was very ready for understanding a bit more about Katrina's death. It was just too big an event in my life to dissect completely at the time it happened. Bits and pieces come to the forefront when I'm ready, it appears! Thanks, Margy.


    Congratulations are absolutely right in this case! My shoulders feel much lighter...if I am still working through some of the anger, there is a light at the end of the tunnel which is becoming brighter. I'm not sure if you have the large boulders on your property we do, since you're slightly North, but Grandfather Rock is one of the biggest I've ever seen close-up. One of these days, when we get together, I'll show him to you and see what you think!

    All Consuming,

    Thanks so much for visiting! I am so glad you like rocks...they are everywhere in my house, as well, lol! I actually have a large wooden tray which holds all the rocks, stones and pebbles my granddaughter would collect for me when she was young. She has a great eye...she can find pink quartz easily in a pile of pebbles and I would be the lucky recipient.

    All my life I have collected stones...when I move, the moving men always ask about them, lol! I'm glad you have them everywhere. They are so very grounding, don't you think?

  12. I do, and actually I've always had the same thing as you when I've moved, though they say "ere, what have you got in these boxes, rocks?" and laugh away so I say "yes, they're really full of rocks actually" and they stop laughing and mutter darkly instead. One of my friends who was helping almost went home after that hahahah. I'm very keen of fossils too, which I'm guessing you may be also?

  13. The exercise was a success is seems . . .

    My father died last week (16th) after a month of hospice in the nursing home (a post will follow when I process the last week of blurry events and people). It was a good death in that his lying there day after day was not in his nature and certainly not in my nature to watch that. Hospice people are truly angels and I am happy to see that you are one of them. You have the history necessary to empathize and feel others' grief.
    To re-live your daughter's leaving can only be helpful in your hospice work.

    I applaud you, with tears in my eyes.

  14. All Consuming,

    I am drawn to Petroglyphs. I love how expression was so important, way back then, that they carved into Rock...a difficult, time-consuming project!

    I found some Flint the other day. It has pride of place on my bookshelf. There is a lot of Marble here as well, which are really heavy. I have a collection these days which would be impossible to take in its entirety when I move. Hernias galore, heh!

    I have found some Rocks which may (or may not) have vague delineations on them. I keep looking...this place is such a treasure trove I am sure there are Fossils somewhere!

  15. Goatman,

    My dear. This must have been a most difficult time for you, and my heart goes out to you and your family. Please believe that while it may have looked to you as if he was only lying there, he was doing the most difficult work of his entire life. Dying is not takes hard work. Just by being with your father as he went through his final journey and letting him know how much you understood and loved him helped him so much.

    I'm so glad Hospice is with you and your family. You must feel muddled and overwhelmed and numb. I was told when Katrina died grieving is like the Ocean waves...some come in small...little, lapping waves and others crash upon the shore, turning you upside down. And grieving is really like that, I've found. Life seemed fairly normal one minute and the next instant tears fell like Rain.

    Please email me if you want to talk...I can listen really well.

    Thank you for letting me know...we have a long relationship, you and I, and it feels as if I have lost a member of my family as well. Take good care of yourself. xoxo

  16. Your words help.
    On my last visit I was able to shave him and, although I should have been concerned that they hadn't done that, I was thankful for this last offering that I was able to give.
    We just have to cry it out, I guess . . . . .

  17. Marion,
    I have had to take a similar road as you. I agree that this experience gives us an exercise in the how the fires of anger are deep seated inside our being. The helpless feeling is as if you are in a swirling sea and no matter how much you work you still are sucked into the middle of all this sorrow and loss. You try and you try to escape the happenings in your soul that makes your heart cry tears of what you know only bring more emptiness.
    As with all things the spirit of time has a way to soothe you and give you insight into the lessons we had to learn from the love one whose journey is now a different path.
    A cup of tea helps brings the warmth to the chill that always permeates the body. It enables us to take time to spend with the quiet and go deep inside to the place that will be what is like in the Light of Divinity.
    I too will be training soon in a Hospice environment to give the healing soothing energy of Reiki. This is one of the lessons I learned from my son David. He smiles in the clouds and he waves in the breeze. He calls my name through the seagull.
    Thank You for your words

  18. Goatman,

    I'm so glad you were able to shave your Dad. It made him feel better and you, as well. By performing such an intimate act, above all you showed how much you cared.

    Cry it out, goatman, don't forget to breathe and remember to laugh as well. My thoughts are with you through this time of intense grief. xo


    I am so sorry for your loss, Dave. Your words here are so wise and calming, as they always are when you visit. I appreciate you so much.

    Katrina and David follow a different path now; but I know from dreams I have had that Katrina is well, is growing and learning. She visits, just as your David, in the form of Birds and Flowers, Clouds and gurgling Rivers. If I call her name, I can feel her energy surround me.

    I will be giving Reiki as well. Your Hospice group will be so very grateful you are a part of them...wisdom, gentleness and a loving heart are so much a part of you. Reiki is a wonderful last gift to the dying and the bereaved.

    Thank you so much for your comment...every time you do I feel calmer and just a little more able to continue...


  19. Thanks for sharing Marion. It must be teerible to lose a child.

    As far as the Hospice training is concerned I know I would probably felt anger as well. I cannot bear anyone touching my special items so taking them away would probably kill me.

    What would we do without tea ? I have at least 50 varieties and still tend to buy new ones when I see them. My favourites at the moment are Lady Grey tea and nettle tea. One for taste and the other for health :)