tea and kindness

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"A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses." ~ Chinese Proverb

YadollahPouringTeasm.jpg When I come to one of my favorite local tea rooms, Teance, I am sometimes lucky enough to be greeted at the door by Yadollah Moghaddam.  He takes my hands and says "I can't tell you how happy I am to see you. Seeing you here makes me feel so good!"  His kindness is inspiring. Through his bearing, I feel valuable all of a sudden, as if my presence has meaning. He has reminded me of what is good in me with just a few kind words, a gesture, a smile, and a humble graciousness that says "You matter to me." If anything, this is the finest art of tea.

I once asked Yadollah's son, Darius, who also works at Teance, how his father had come to be so kind and gracious. "Practice," said Darius simply, as if to remind me that any of us could become like this if only we could make a small effort each day and with each person we greet.

"Everyone loves my dad," said Darius. "When I go to the bank, or to our favorite Pakistani restaurant or anywhere people know Yadolllah, people say "I love your Dad! Tell him I say hello.  Give him my best!"

Just as making tea is a practice for those who are avid tea lovers, so is kindness a practice for those who want to achieve a certain state of grace. The Dalai Lama stated, "My religion is kindness."  Though tea is not a religion, the act of serving tea with an eye towards making the guest feel welcomed, appreciated and valuable has the same essential goodness at its core and the same desire to serve with selflessness.

I had thought that some people were just born good-natured, but perhaps this is not the only way. Perhaps it can also oneday be me who glows radiantly like Yadollah, who after saying goodbye as he walked me to my car, stood at attention and watched as I drove away.  I watched him too, in my rear view mirror, saw him standing silently and diligently, as if he were my father, my brother or my best friend, saying goodbye for the last time.

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"Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness"~ Seneca



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