I’ve been studying the Bible a lot, lately.
Wait! Don’t turn away. I swear this isn’t proselytizing, and—yes—this still deals with tea. Plus a whole lot more. It may be a tad unwieldy to navigate this, here, narrative. But we’ll make it together. Okay? Okay. Moving on . . .
Over the last few weeks, my brother and I have been studying the Bible. It was his idea, and he gifted me with both a New International Version and a study guide to work from. I joined in on this for three reasons: (1) I honestly didn’t know much about the canon, proper. (2) I wanted to understand my brother better. And (3) it gave me an excuse to see my adorable niece and nephew. (I’m a mushy uncle, sue me.) Of course, said sessions were presided over with tea of my choosing.
One of our earliest forays was in the Gospel of John. All my life, I hadn’t read a gospel from start to finish. Reading it was like, say, reading The Iliad . . . on hallucinogens. The Bible is a weird book, and Jesus is a weird dude, which is why I enjoyed the heck out of it. If I came away with some sort of moral lesson from the experience, all the better.
One passage in it—John 7:24— really stuck out. In it, Jesus said:
Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.
What a curious line. Depending on which version a reader perused, sometimes “judge correctly” read as “right judgment”, which made it even more confusing. At first, I thought it was a rendition of the often-quoted line: “Judge not lest ye be judged.” But, nay, that’s in the book of Matthew, and that would take too long to dissect here.
I understood what the whole “don’t judge by appearances” bit meant, but what did he mean by “judge correctly”, instead? I was stumped. And I continued to be stumped for weeks. Until this week, that is.
Parallel to this study, I was also deep in query over a certain tea cake that was creating a lot of buzz in online tea circles. Taiwan-based Mountain Stream Teas had convinced a farmer in the southeastern part of the island to make puerh-like beengs . . . out of Shan Cha material. That’s right, the allegedly indigenous cultivar.
What’s that? Well, remember that noir-ish blog I did a couple of years ago?
Yeah, it was about that cultivar. Now, there was a puerh-like cake made of the stuff. And I was going nuts figuring out if what the vendor said about it was true. I grilled friends, other vendors, took to the Internet to research the tree, bugged even more people about the shape of the trees! I’m pretty sure everyone I talked to thought of me in this way.
All of them told me the same thing, “You’re not going to know until you taste it.”
So, I bought the damn cake.
And yesterday—as of the time of this writing—I finally broke into said cake. Tea friend Kim even tagged along on this journey, dipping into her own sample, and providing moral support. And . . .
Yep, it was Shan Cha material. The taste of tea started off like a normal, young assamica-based sheng, but then took an immediate detour into wintergreen territory. The huigan on the sucker felt cooling, and a bit like a bug-bitten tea garden right before the autumn frost kicked in.
Oh, did I mention that the dry leaves smelled like Fruit Roll-Ups? Because they totally did. I had tried to judge a tea cake by its appearance alone, casting doubt on its production, only to be proven wrong.
After that session, a few hours later into the evening, I caught a movie with a couple of old high school buddies. The film?
None of us had high hopes for it. Critics railed against its pacing, and a batshit crazy third act. Plus, it was a Shyamalan movie, and his first attempt at a real sequel. To two of his prior films. And . . . you guys?
I loved it.
Sure, the pacing was poor, and the third act was crazy. But, I dunno, it hit all my buttons. Granted, I have some weird buttons, and when they’re pushed, weird things happen. Without giving it away, what really grabbed me was the moral of the story. Outside forces tried to cast doubt on the existence of special people, and they made said people doubt their own potential. And, here I was, doubting the movie before I even saw it, only to be proven wrong again. Twice in the same day.
Also this week, a little voice inside my head told me to do something. Okay . . . the voice wasn’t so little.
Not sure what motivated me to do it, but I re-opened old online dating app profiles. I kept putting off this particular “search” because of self-doubt. I didn’t think I was attractive enough, established enough, or mature enough. Well, okay, I was old, but not mature; the age thing was another issue. Even the folder I put said apps in echoed my reticence.
That not-so-little voice, though, said, “You have to start looking, now!”
Around the same time, while in the shower one day, I had an epiphany over a story I kept putting off. A puzzle I had cornered my muse in finally solved itself. If anyone had been home that late-morning in my household, they would’ve heard my bellow of, “A-HA!”
Which brings me to today; the morning of this writing. During my commute to work, I listen to podcasts. They keep me relatively zen in rush hour traffic. Thursdays are my Mondays, and that just so happens to be the day that the excellent PositiviTea podcast drops.
Hosts Mary and Jacob usually begin with a quote they find inspiring. This episode’s nugget hailed from the late Audrey Hepburn:
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!
Hearing that put the last bit of brick and mortar in place for me, regarding that earlier Jesus quote in John. Paraphrased by me, it meant:
Approach each person and situation with a healthy amount of doubt, but also give them the benefit of the doubt.
This also included one’s self. If things appear insurmountable, or even impossible, your biggest obstacle is yourself. Meaning: things aren’t always as good or bad as they appear. Plus, one can never understand the whole truth, unless they look upon it through a correct lens. Only through experience can we see such truth, and cope in a positive way.
Over the course of this week, I’ve realized that in order to achieve a positive outcome, I need to look at things in a positive light. In my own subjective way, that means having God in my corner. For others, it might mean something completely different.
Am I viewing my cup—or “glass”—half full?
My cup runneth over.