Tuesday Tea

Image: Zebras Child 2019

I know I said I would just post photos for at least a week, but I want to tell you the history of this kettle.

The predecessor to this kettle was given to me by husband about 15 years ago. I had fallen in love with it through a store window up in Mendocino, California while I was visiting my mom. Let me remind you that my husband was the cook of the family, so it was his kitchen. He didn’t want to replace our large Revere Ware kettle with anything else because the Revere kettle could hold enough water to make enough drip coffee for guests all in one go. And there was nothing wrong with it. I couldn’t argue with that, but eventually the little plastic bit that enabled you to lift the small lid and pour, broke, as plastic bits are prone to do. Revere no longer made those extra large kettles, so he agreed to get me one of these wonderful pure copper English kettles for my birthday.

We used that one happily for about 12 years. But alas, we had originally bought the design that could only be used on a gas stove. Our retirement community only has electric stoves, so we needed a replacement. But in the intervening years, the price for these kettles had shot up a whopping 300%. That is not a typo. The original copper works factory that had been making these kettles for over 100 years found it too expensive to continue to operate and had closed down. These kettles had gone overnight from being ubiquitous in England and passed down from mother to daughter, to trendy and rare. Only the quantity that remained in the warehouse existed. I told him how much they now cost. He paled a little, but then said, “Sweet Love, I know how much you have loved using this kind of kettle. No matter the price, I will still get you a new one for your birthday. He did, and I think of him every morning as I fill the pot with water and turn on the electric stove.


Flowers in Our Common Garden                           Image: Zebras Child 2019

I am fortunate that some of our family is Jewish and some of our family is Christian. If you have been celebrating Easter today, Happy Easter, and if you are in the midst of celebrating Passover, Chag Sameach. If you celebrate neither, I hope you have had a lovely weekend.

Ash Wednesday 2011

Today has been hard.  This is my fifth week off work due to bronchitis and a sinus infection, and it’s Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent. I had neither the energy to attend the short noon healing Eucharist, as I usually do, nor the main Ash Wednesday service this evening.  I’ve been really sad.  Lent is actually my second favorite liturgical season.  Advent, the four Sundays leading to Christmas, is the first.  Sometimes I wish those two seasons could last all year.  And then, of course, I immediately realize that they can’t.  Of course they can’t.  They would no longer be set aside.

That’s the purpose of both Advent and Lent.  It’s not so much the whole sackcloth and ashes thing that Lent was when I was growing up.  But both are seasons in which we should be mindful.  Mindful of prayer, of meditation, or of study.  And for me, extra hours of rehearsals and performances, in which we are singing some of the most beautiful music of the church year.  Since music is such a direct link to both my soul and God, it isn’t hard to spend more time in both questioning and reflection.

So I was upset this afternoon when I realized that I wouldn’t have the energy to attend the evening service either.  I called Olga, our pastoral care priest, just to express my sadness and ask for her prayers.  Her immediate response was to suggest that I call John, one of our retired adjunct priests, and ask him to make a pastoral visit and bring ashes.

“You can bring ashes??” I said.  I had a vision of the finely ground ashes from the palms of last year’s Palm Sunday service scattering on the wind and John reaching out and trying to capture some in his hand.

“Yes, you can bring ashes.  We’ve been bringing ashes to people in the hospital all day.”

And then, of course, I realized the ashes would be in a container.  With a lid.  Screwed on.  Tightly.  There’s my lack of common sense imagination again.  And I realized that they would tuck in John’s traveling communion kit quite nicely.

“Oh.”  I said.

So I said goodbye to Olga and called John.  He couldn’t come today, so we arranged for him to come over after I got home from the hospital and my IVIG infusion on Friday.  I was caught by surprise when I started to cry as I was explaining that it was difficult starting Lent without Ash Wednesday as an outward sign of the change of the liturgical season. I felt as though I was just drifting into Lent, with no intentionality about it.  He understood.  And while the imposition of ashes and receiving communion will not actually be on Ash Wednesday, it will be equally appropriate on Friday.  During my infusions, I am both deeply grateful for the blood donors who keep me alive, and very aware of my mortality.

But I still have an image of finely ground ashes scattering in the wind, and the impossibility of catching them.  It is an endearing image, making me realize how grateful I am that we are dependent on each other, and that none of us are alone.