When I started drinking tea many years ago there wasn’t much of a choice. It was basically black tea. We didn’t have the flavors we do now. You could add sugar, honey and milk to your tea, but that was about it.
When the flavored teas came out I decided they were not for me. I jokingly said if I wanted fruit in my tea I would just drink fruit juice. So I avoided them. My oldest daughter was the first to start tasting these new flavors. She would encourage me to try some different flavorings and my answer was always the same, “no.” I am not sure how I got started. Probably my daughter was the one to fix me my first cup of flavored tea. I soon found out I loved the challenge of finding a new and different taste to my old comfortable morning tea.
I now have Vanilla and honey chamomile, raspberry tea, black mango and the list goes on. I love coconut and have found a tea with coconut flavoring. I would hate to admit how many different boxes of teas I have. Some women have numerous pairs of shoes I have boxes of teas.
As Kristi was telling me about her tea bag devotion I was thinking about my own story with tea bags. I never wanted anything but plain ordinary tea. That’s the way it was with my faith. I just wanted the simple, plain taste of a good faith. I didn’t want to add much flavoring to my faith. Doing what I thought was weird like meditation with a candle, or walking a labyrinth or going on a silent retreat ( or any kind of a retreat) was way out of line. Just give me the Bible and let me alone.
One year I walked a labyrinth at our church. I decided it was time to break out of my humdrum life. I never realized how much something like that could make such an impact on my Christian walk. It was refreshing and inspiring.
I began to hear about the Lectio Divina. Then it was explained to me. Here is an explanation from the web, “Lectio (reading): Read the passage aloud (or silently, if you are not in a place where you can read aloud). Listen for a word that sticks out to you (for example, in Psalm 23, it could be “shepherd” or “dwell” or “green pastures”). Read the passage again. If one word or phrase stood out the first time, see if it does the second time. Begin to repeat this word or phrase to yourself and let it resonate with you. If nothing sticks out, that is okay; just read again! Imagine someone taking a highlighter and pointing out one word or phrase. Remember, this is not a performance-driven exercise (spiritual devotions are not meant to be about performance, they´re meant for worship of our Most High God!). Focus on spending time with God in his Word.” (Written by Laura Abrams). I have done this and found it to be meaningful.
Next was lighting a candle and meditation. Just sitting and being still and concentrating on the glow of the candle and listening for God to speak. I still don’t have that one down, but I am working on it.
The one I am learning about now is the Examan prayer. I haven’t tried it yet, but I really want to know more about this one. This version I am sharing you with is from St. Ignatius’s prayer. Become aware of the presence of God. Review the day with gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note its joys and delights. Pay attention to your emotions.
Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. Ask what God is saying through these feelings. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may be a vivid moment or something that seems insignificant. Look toward tomorrow. Ask God to give you light for tomorrow’s challenges. St. Ignatius encouraged people to talk to Jesus like a friend. End the Daily Examen with a conversation with Jesus. I know about praying to Jesus, but having a conversation with Him? That was something new to me.
There are so many more wonderful ideas for growing and learning then just sitting down with your Bible and reading. There are times just like my ordinary cup of tea that I want or need to do just that: grab my Bible and read. But there are other times I need to add a little flavor to my study time. I can do that by adding different methods at different times to gain a new and fresh perspective to what I am reading.
By drinking the same type of tea over the years I didn’t know what I was missing. Now since I have added some flavors to my tea I am excited to see what new flavors I can try. By adding a new way to study the Bible or praying I can rejuvenate my Bible Study and gain some new insight. I am sure I haven’t found all the methods to studying or praying, or meditating or retreating in silence, but I am on a journey. Yes, there will be days I will come back to the comfortable and do something so simple, but there will certainly be those days I will challenge myself to doing something different. God doesn’t want us to get stale or mundane. He wants us to be fresh and challenged; adding something new answers His call for me.
Are you willing to try something new? Are you willing to taste and see God’s goodness? I think I will go grab a new flavored tea, my Bible and do some studying.
Dear God: You call us to challenge ourselves to learn new ways and write your words on our heart. Sometimes when we do the same thing over and over it gets tedious and we often miss something you have for us. When we change our methods and we challenge ourselves we often can find what it is we are to gain from scripture. You speak to us in so many ways, yet we often limit you to our one way. Guide our paths as we step out in faith and study in a new and different way. Amen.