Afghan girlsGreg Mortenson was not a tea drinker in 1993 when he awoke to his passion and purpose on earth – building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan to educate young girls on the same terrain where the Taliban was trained.

Three Cups of Tea is the title he chose for his New York Times best-selling book.  The title was taken from an ancient Balti (Tibetan decent) proverb: “The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger.  The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest.  The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family.”  Three Cups of Tea describes Mr. Mortenson’s mission to promote peace…one school at a time.

On the back of Mr. Mortenson’s book, the village chief from Pakistan has a slightly different take on this proverb.  He says, “Here, we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join our family, and for our family we are prepared to do anything – even die.”  A great deal can happen between your first and third cups of tea.

tea in PakistanRecently, I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Mortenson, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, speak in person in San Diego, and I would like to share briefly what I took away from his inspiring and heart-opening talk.

Where there is education, there will be peace.  When you educate a boy, you educate an individual.  When you educate a young girl, you educate a community.  To destroy a community, you separate the elders from the youth; these are the practiced tactics of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.  When the bond between the Mullah (the elders) and the youth has been severed, a young mind can easily be led astray.  Kids can change the world.  One person can make a huge difference.  Every penny helps.  We take education for granted in our country.

In what other way did Mr. Mortenson inspire me?  Once again, this ancient beverage – tea – surfaced with a simple, yet profound message of peace and setting aside our differences.  However, there was an equally important message I took away from his talk.

Let’s make a pot of tea and sit down with Grandma and Grandpa and listen to what they have to say.  They don’t even have to be blood relatives.  I truly believe a very valuable resource is not being acknowledged in our culture.  If we lose the bond between our generations, we will lose our culture, and eventually our nation.

How hard could it be to invite your aging neighbor over for tea?  How much of our busy lives could we surrender to take the time to drive to Grandma’s house for a visit over tea?  How about a mother-grandmother-granddaughter tea?  Or a family vacation that includes visiting an elderly family member on the way to a four-star, all-the-rage new vacation destination?

old personBeing in the tea industry, I am quite sure that my take on Mr. Mortenson’s talk is rather different from that of the hundreds of other folks who were on board the USS Midway on June 24, 2009 – most of whom were educators, military, college students, and seniors.

All I am saying is that there is tremendous wisdom right at our fingertips – with our seniors.  Let us extend a cup of human kindness towards them for all they have done for us – we still have a great deal to learn from them.  And by all means, fill that cup with tea.  You know, Mr. Mortenson is now a very dedicated tea drinker.


What is old is new again.
What once was will always be.
All there is, is all there ever has been.
God is all there is and all there will be.
Whispers of the ancient past call out to me.
I sit quiet; I listen and sip my tea.
Time stands still; no past, no future, just destiny.
No beginning, no end, I am one with eternity.
One with this force I am part of the Source.
It is all now, there is no past tense.
The mystery of history is alive and well.
It is in me, it is me, the secrets I could tell.
A path has been laid, no mistakes have been made.
It was all for good when we seek the good;  for good lies within us all.
What have we learned from all our tears?
What lessons have our fears, over the years taught us the most?
Live and let live. Love and be loved.
Be grateful, thoughtful and thankful.
Rest in the knowing there’s much more than what’s showing.
Dig deep, take the plunge, seek the unseen.
God is all you’ll find, God is all that has been.