I used to hate hot tea.
The mere thought of tea served at any temperature warmer than a tooth-pain inducing level made me sick to my stomach.
My grandma made the best sweet, iced tea! If I remember correctly, the beverage of choice to be served with butter beans and cornbread for every meal was sweetened with two cups of sugar and five saccharin tablets (if anyone remembers what saccharin is...). It was so sweet, I often just had tea for dessert!
I loved iced tea and HATED hot tea.
But then I went to Ukraine.
In Ukraine, as with most of the rest of the world, tea was preferred hot. The hotter the better.
Maybe my love for tea came from my deep love for the Ukrainian people who introduced me to it, but in that three weeks, tea became synonymous with things like comfort, creativity, peace and love for me emotionally.
"Vwi khoteetya chai?" The question.
"Da, spaseeba!" The reply.
"Kofe', chai, potansuem?" That still makes me giggle.
A love for tea, and the evoking emotions was birthed in me.
The tradition I learned from Sveta of inhaling a deep breath of the tea's aroma before taking a drink.
The way to wrap the tea bags string around the spoon until you can squeeze out the last drops of tea water held in the bag. (Of course, me, being the rebel I am, with a taste for the bold, always left my tea bag in the cup! Scandal!)
The late nights in Gala and Dima's apartment; eating cookies, drinking tea and laughing at jokes that lost meaning in translation!
In the few years since then, I've had the opportunity to sample teas from around the world.
Amazingly exotic and expensive teas.
Like the ruby red chai from Trader Joe's that made people almost melt from it's delicious smell.
Or the sharp, ginger tea that calmed the passenger's queasy stomach on a very rough flight.
The blueberry tea in Turkey.
Or the masala chai tea in that little market in Mumbai. More presented than served.
Teas steeped from bags or just loose leaves floating in the cup.
Teas so strong and bold it made you feel "like a man."
Teas so delicate I thought they would drift me into some swan like dance. (But I resisted.)
Like I said, some exotic, some expensive. All vying for a position in my backpack, to be enjoyed on the next layover or while writing or simply at gate A19...
And I wrestled with the decision of which was favorite.
But recently I realized the winner.
It was a tea I never even purchased.
Just the little packets left next to electric kettles in hotel rooms in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Free for the taking. And inauspiciously and absent-mindedly tossed into my backpack with it's more alluring cousins.
But I found it to be the best, in my humble estimation.
Drinking this tea makes me comfortable, at peace, while simultaneously enticing me to be creative and risky.
And to think, I spent so much time overlooking this tea...almost never giving it a chance.
See, it's packaging appears dull and boring. It's name almost nondescript.
In competing for my choosing, this tea faded into nylon recesses when compared to names like Indian Spice, Kenya, Passion or Awake.
The name of this tea seems almost as though Thomas Twinings himself was calling from beyond his British tomb, with a haunting, sing-song warning: "BOR-ING!"
As though, even a major tea company's marketing department could think of nothing spectacular to say, only that this tea is insignificant, pallid.
See, this tea that has become my favorite, this tea that both calms and inspires me, rests in a docile label reading "Everyday."
Any old day.
No birthday cakes or shouts and cheers.
No red carpet applause or acceptance speeches.
No barrage of bubbles or bird seed.
No spiritual mountain peaks.
(I always think of Tuesday afternoons.)
The reality of my love for this tea, and it innocuous title, hit me in the middle of a sea of brilliant significance. It hit me this weekend while being part of an incredible mountain high experience called CGYWVN #23.
In the height of this jubilation, surrounded by some of the most beautiful faces and words, knowing the capacity of my heart and feeling the exhilaration that capacity's burst, I realized that this beauty can be known.
But not just there.
Not just in that seclusion of love and acceptance.
Not just behind the great walls laughter, tears, Daddy-hugs and the floating-on-air-feelings of freedom.
I realized that this can be known in Everyday.
Even when I'm far removed from that fortress of forgiveness, where everyone almost seems to live to tell me I'm loved, I can know the Daddy who loves me Everyday.
This also made me think of people.
And I realized that it is not really the one's whose appearance, talents and gifts are featured in prime time or illuminated by spot lights, who make the big difference in the lives of people.
In fact, sometimes these people detest their own mirror's reflection or the burden that comes with living up to the expectations of those gifts and talents.
So often, the people who make the biggest difference in our lives are the people who feel they wear that Twinings Tea label.
Sometimes people feel they have nothing to offer in the lines of exotic, special or memorable. And feel that shrinking into obscurity is their obvious destiny.
But just like this tea has brought such emotional reassurance to me and my life, it is most often the people who seem to just quietly exist that have brought about the most security in me being the best me I can be.
It's so often those who feel they have nothing special to offer that have brought the most special gifts for me to open, and that remind me life is worth living alive.
So today, if you're having an "everyday," or if you're feeling that you stand out like beige paint...don't forget the great peace and significance and beauty of your Everyday.
And thank you for making the difference that makes me alive.
I love you and the beauty of the Everyday.