I arrived early in the morning at the Lawai International Center in order to help the Aunties from the local tea society, the Chado Urasenke Tankokai. When I walked up to the Hall of Compassion I was surprised to see most of the preparation for the tea ceremony had already been completed. Although it was the first time, the woman worked with quiet efficiency as if they had performed the ceremony in the new temple many times.
I was asked if I would hang a scroll in the center of the alter area. It read,
Later, after the ceremony, I asked what the Japanese Kanji characters meant.
Ichi-go Ichi-e, is roughly translated into English as, one time, one meeting.
Beyond the graceful movements of the woman preparing and serving the tea were concealed layers of meaning. I was determined to pay close attention and discover something new. During the ceremony,time seemed to stand still, yet it went by too quickly. It felt as if the mystery all around us was being recognized and intensely observed for a brief moment. Nothing was explained, yet everything was different.
When the Grand Tea Master, Dr. Genshita Sen XV performed the tea ceremony at the Kapaa Hongwanji Mission, he prepared two cups of tea. They were sacred offerings, one for those who have passed, and the other was offered for peace.
It sparked a thought, perhaps my story about tea is a kind of offering? Wait for the water to reach a boil ...one time, one meeting.