By Kara M., Carlow University Student
“A comfortable cup of tea,” Catherine McAuley said, was a way to heal you, to counsel you, to warm your spirit. Tea is the passage to good health, happiness and wisdom. The fermenting and steaming of tea leaves has endless flavor possibilities and mental health benefits. A holistic approach to health through tea allows us to become in tune to our body’s natural existence, without the influence of harmful chemicals or alterations.
When I was a younger, I would often get into fierce arguments with my mother. After one particularly bad argument, I remember being so angry that I had a terrible headache. I wanted a way to calm down without taking pain medicine. I loved to drink tea so I decided to put on a pot. I stood facing the stove, watching the steam come out of the vent, fizzing out against the window. As I poured the boiling water into the mug, I saw the water turn color almost immediately into a soft hazel and then into a deep brown. I loved watching sugar melt into the swirl of hot tea, mesmerizing me into a peaceful meditative state. I sat on the couch in near silence holding the mug in my hands, allowing the steam to rise up against my face, calming and soothing me. Today I hardly get into intense fights with my mother and I drink much more tea than I used to.
A cup of tea teaches so much: to be warm and inviting; to be healthy and steady; to be a comforting presence. Tea’s calming nature helps me reflect and relieves stress. Tea allows me peace of mind by reminding me of the compassion, love and warmth I received from my mother after our arguments. In a time when so many people use prescribed medicines to relax, pausing to drink tea brings me tranquility through personal reflection and physical calmness.
Catherine McAuley was a woman of great love, compassion and warmth. As she lay dying, she asked one of the sisters in her room to have a comfortable cup of tea ready for the sisters when she was gone. She wanted her friends to feel the serenity that tea encouraged even in a time of such distress. Because of her compassion towards the women she was leaving, I remember Catherine McAuley through tea and the warm and compassionate relationships that sprung from her vision which are seen through the works and the lives of the Sisters of Mercy to this day.
This blog is the second in a series of highlighting Catherine McAuley and Mercy, shared in connection with the anniversary of her death on November 11, 1841. The first post on Catherine can be found here and the third post on Mercy hospitality can be found here.