Wednesday, February 21, 2007

T'ai Chi and Tea

Sunday I traded Jesus for Buddha.

A buddy asked if I wanted to go to a t'ai chi class with her. While I had been told earlier in the weekend that Sunday was the New Year, the two of us hadn't let it register that if we were going to a temple on that day, we might encounter a crowd.

We did. Early enough (we thought) for tea, we sat down in the Tea Room and placed our order. Mine was to be a pot of lemon, honey and pomegranete-infused liquid. The panini like veggie sandwich rounded out the $5 order. The volunteer staff seemed slightly out of sorts with the size of their crowd. Several times they stopped by our table to tell us it would only be a "few more minutes" and apologize. Twenty minutes later, the sandwiches arrived. Five minutes after that, the tea was served. We had missed (we thought) our class.

We settled into the peacefulness of the place, the energy generated by families walking the grounds and enjoying the Tea Room. Then a young man stepped up to our table and let us know that if we were the ones interested in the class, we could still attend.

Thirty minutes late we walked in on the stretching. Not yoga but still nice.

The instructor was a small man with a tendency to break into laughter if he felt you might not be understanding what he was saying. The class was made up of five individuals who were all over 60 (and possibly 65 years of age) . . . 4 Anglos and an African American. They seemed unfazed by our interruption. The instructor even came to us during the break and offered to give us a "make up" for the 30 minutes we missed. By the time, the end of the class arrived, though impressed with his generosity of spirit and time, I'd had about all the slow-paced instruction for the slow-paced movements that I felt necessary so I left my buddy to take it all in.

I have to admit the pace was comforting and once I gave into the idea that I wasn't going to make the 45 minute trip to my faith community, I relaxed and did my best to follow his lead.

But ultimately, it was the contradiction that led me to know I wouldn't be returning (at least to the class . . . because the tea was EXCELLENT).

The moves are based on slow versions of moves one might make in combat. I couldn't quite align the idea of a peaceful meditation with defensive and offensive gestures, no matter how beautiful.

In the end, I missed my friends and family back in Tomball and once again wished the drive weren't so long. So it's Jesus 1, Buddha 0 on this round.*

(and no, I'm not really keeping score!)


Anonymous said...

Did you have Chi tea with your T'ai Chi?


juli said...

yes! this is the same buddhist temple ryan and i visited a few weeks ago! certainly not as nice as some of the more conservative temples (those with the money buy nice things i suppose), but as you said...the tea was amazing. i'm thinking about picking some up for my convent stay next week. we missed you, but i'm glad you got to do something so neat.