Thursday, April 10, 2014


Renée, our concierge of yesterday, has more to say about tea. As a prescription for human accord, her cup of tea may be simplistic. But perhaps not altogether irrelevant.

Tea is no minor beverage, she says. "When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?"

Tea has become pretty much a universal drink, from Tokyo to Glasgow to Istanbul. A sippy sort of drink, that soothes, slows and silences. An inexpensive drink, enjoyed by the wealthy and the poor. Perhaps each session of Congress should begin with a tea ceremony, to remind the reps of our common humanity. I like those photographs of uniformed American military commanders sharing tea with tribal elders in Afghanistan.

Small things that aspire to nothing. Is it possible to find happiness with such simple accoutrements as a cup of tea, a Chopin Etude, a vase of fresh-cut flowers? Poor, unattractive Renée, in her frugal loge, doesn't envy the affluent families that inhabit her apartment building. Their wealth does not seem to make them happy, or generous, or kind. Renée has her art, high and low. And tea.