I am a strong advocate for using handmade teaware in my daily tea ritual. I believe that when I interact with art on such a personal level, it has a way of touching my soul. Over the years, I’ve collected some beautiful tea cups and I have to say, I get tremendous pleasure each time I sip my favorite teas from these precious vessels.
Every once in a while, despite my best efforts, a small chip appears on the rim of a treasured tea cup. How could this have happened? Perhaps I overloaded the dishwasher and placed something too close to its neighbor? Perhaps something fell on it while it was drying on the drain dish. I never actually see the damage at the time it occurs, but when I pick up the cup to sip my tea, there it is, a wound on my tea cup.
Once the initial trauma and upset pass, I’m faced with a dilemma. I’m never quite sure what to do with the damaged piece. I try to continue using it, thinking of it as a wounded soldier in the battle of life. But the truth is, it’s painful. I get angry with myself each time I see it and berate myself for allowing the damage to have occurred due to my carelessness. I find myself selecting other tea cups instead, which bring me pleasure rather than discomfort. So the scarred cups eventually drift to the back of the cabinet, relegated to an informal damaged-goods section. I certainly can’t throw them away; these handmade treasures don’t deserve such a farewell.
Last week, I was going on my morning hike in the woods and noticed some fallen limbs that were covered in thick moss. They were quite beautiful and I found myself touching the soft moss and wanting to bring some home. Inspiration struck and I quickly gathered some sections while I continued my walk back home. I left the moss by the front door, found an old friend in the back of my teaware cabinet and hurried out the door. I grabbed a fist full of potting soil, placed it reverently into the tea cup, added the moss and water, and behold – my new favorite plant. What’s remarkable is that within a few days time, sitting on a sunny window in the humid bathroom, the moss started to green up. I’ve added another tea cup along with some additional moss and I’m happily developing a moss garden. It makes me smile each time I look at it. Rather than feel sad that I’m no longer drinking tea from them, I take comfort knowing that they’re providing an exceptional home to a new living thing. Isn’t it wonderful when we can recycle a beloved item and continue to get tremendous pleasure from it, even though its function has changed?