Lately I have read many articles and blogs about expectations. About how things are never as you expect them to be. Maybe we should enter every day or journey without expectations and see what comes of it. So on Sunday when plans were changed I welcomed it. I had planned on going to church, eating lunch, and then going back to my room to study Japanese for the rest of the day. I expected to have a day being very productive. But of course it seems that God had something else in mind. After lunch, one of the older parishioners, Mrs. Karube, invited Claire (the other missionary who is fluent in Japanese) and I to tea at her house. Claire was unable to go, which put a damper on communication. Thankfully, she let us barrow her electronic dictionary.
We set out for Mrs. Karube’s house. She lives in a very traditional Japanese style house. She showed me to her guest room which is disguised as a tea room (or maybe even a living room to our standards). The floor had the traditional bamboo mat, there was a low set table, and Japanese style cushions for sitting. The doors and windows were made with traditional paper and bamboo frame. The room also faced out into the garden.
After she made tea she told me about her daughter who is an artist for children books. She showed me some of her daughter’s books and explained some of the stories. Somehow in conversation I told her about the tea ceremony I went to last week. We talked about the various traditions that it entailed. She then left the room for a few minutes and came back with hot water, treats, and a box with traditional tea set for a tea ceremony. The box and many of the utensils inside were made by her grandfather. We then had a “home” tea ceremony.
One of the books that her daughter designed pictures for was a Chinese story of a peacock. Now Mrs. Karube does not speak much English. So with my very limited Japanese, her English, and the beautiful pictures her daughter created she read the story to me. She acted out most of the story and what I couldn’t understand, we looked up in the dictionary. It was wonderful. I felt like I was a child again listening to a great story teller. There was a moment when the sun was shining in through the window and she was in the middle of telling the story that I felt true sense of peace. It was like something out of a movie.
The afternoon went by with talking about all the places we have been. She showed me pictures of her trips to Canada and all the things she saw. We talked about my home back in the states and the differences of life here. While this day was not planned and we both expected an awkward afternoon of miscommunication and tea, it turned out to be one of the best days I have spent. It was perfect in every aspect even without the ability to completely understand one another. In fact I think that difficulty only made it better. It is amazing what will happen when you see past your expectations and see the beauty in the reality. I am so thankful for that afternoon and for her.
I hope that you are able to enter everyday without the complication of expectations; welcome whatever may come. You might be surprised at what you will receive in return.