When you’re part of a religious group that cycles through food restrictions like the Orthodox fasts, setting a pretty table can be a challenge. I’m so grateful during the Apostles fast that there’s so much fresh fruit.
What’s your favorite food to serve to guests with dietary restrictions?
A wise priest I know explains the mysteries of the church like this: a baby doesn’t understand being nourished by her mother, but she knows she’s being nourished by her mother. I think we all experience grace and mercy that way. In Tea & Crumples, the characters are faced with challenges far beyond comprehending, but they are met with love that’s even deeper. Sometimes tea is just tea. But sometimes, it’s a connection to the deep soul nurture we all crave. I hope you feel the mercy, lovingkindness, steadfast love, there right when you need it most grace this weekend. And I hope you share a cup of it with another soul that needs love.
I love purple. It’s a color I associate with the richness of wine, velvet nights, the coziest blanket tucked around a small child. But it’s also the color of old grief.
My great-grandmother Luella Mae, known to us as “Granny,” was a Junebug. She was born in June and died in early summer some 18 years ago. Memories of Granny are scattered like grapes through my childhood and teen years.
Granny had the best songs and quips. “My nose itches. I smell peaches. Yonder come a man with a hole in his breeches.” She loved red like the sun loves heat.
My novel Tea & Crumples wades right into the depths of grief and floats back out on hope. I thought about Granny when I was writing it, along with all the other loves I cannot touch. What makes grief tolerable are the daily rituals that let us stir faith into our homes. That’s why, when I think about the message of my book, these words come to mind. Tea helps us touch grief in the dark.
If you are going through a purple valley, I hope you know I’m here, thinking of you, too, when I stir my tea.
After my dad died in 2012, there was a long period of going through the motions. What kept me sane and kept my family together was the daily need for food, drink, connection. I had loved tea with friends and family before then, but we solidified our family tea tradition that year, capping a summer of hot grief with the warmth of the tea table. I dug in a garden that summer, too, and the mints and herbs that grow there have come to be regulars at our teatime.
In Tea & Crumples, the protagonist Sienna is suffering under a terrible grief. But the people around her bridge the gap across her sorrow by reaching across the tea table. It’s not always our words that make sacred spaces. Sometimes it’s the daily rituals, the cleaning of cups, the laying of tables, the tucking in of chairs. Most of the time, holiness seeps in right between our weary fingers. Often, it leaves them warmer.
My hope for this novel is that it creates a safe space for love, for grief, for questions too big to ask all at once. It’s a spot of tea for the soul.