From Libby Hawkness-Smith the Community Chaplain, Rose Hill – September 2019

Dear Friends,

I wonder when you last had a truly excellent cup of tea? What made it so great? For me, it was the last time I came to Rose Hill Methodist Church. I forget who it was who made it, but the smile, love and attention made it taste like a treasured gift. I’m not sure if it was the perfect strength, but it was the perfect delivery.

As a chaplain, I spend a lot of time drinking tea, talking with people and hearing stories. I find so much can be solved by just taking the time out to listen to each other, to hear the hurt behind the comments, and the passion behind each little success story. You can share your stories at any time, but I find they’re easier to share over a good cup of something. When I first went to a Methodist Church, back as a naïve 18 year old, I never liked tea, but a friend of mine was determined to find the perfect brew for me. His theory was that everyone liked tea, they just had to know how they liked it. So a year of trying different strengths, sweetnesses and brewing times followed before I discovered my first perfect cup of tea.

I think, honestly, I probably learnt to like tea through a year of having my stories listened to, shared, and celebrated, than over finding the ‘right’ blend, as, even now, my tea preferences change. The more stressed I am, the more spoonfuls of sugar I’ll want in my tea, and the strength very much depends on the person who’s making it. I’ve had really weak tea made by someone who’s learning how to brew, really strong cups with people who need to tell me their worries more than they need to make tea, and they’ve all been excellent.

It’s not so much about getting the perfect cup of tea, but about taking time out to pause, listen to each other’s stories, and share our challenges with each other. Anyone fancy a brew?

B’shalom (be in peace),