“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”
― Gustav Mahler
There is something to be said about our history, our life lived in steps first walked by our ancestors. We can’t escape from what was left behind but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Tradition can sometimes be redefined as superstition or thinking that is set “in the old ways”, minds that aren’t open to new paths or beliefs. Should you delve a bit deeper in some, however, you would find a subtle kind of beauty that is a testament to the human spirit. A discipline, fervor respect for life and those around you. A guide, if you will, to the humbleness of being that is pure and truly moving.
A Tradition of Tea?
An example of this, at least for me, is the ways and methods performed within a Japanese Tea Ceremony. Chanoyu, Sado or simply Ocha in Japanese, this ceremony dates back more than 1000 years when tea was only consumed by priests and in temples for religious purposes. Everything in this ceremony is planned out, coordinated, and pristinely laid before the guest by the host. Each movement a work of art when truly appreciated. The host must pour every sense of themselves, every bit of attention into developing and creating the tea, called Matcha, before the eyes of their guests. All of this as a display of what can often be a spiritual experience and an enviable gift to those who have the chance to sit as such guests.
I know – I know – tea right? What is the big deal about tea? It’s not the tea per se, it’s the act of serving it that captures me. Each instrument is perfectly placed on the tatami mats. Every fold of clothing framing the host laid with care. Every moment a chance to simply breathe and experience a second to just slow down and really be exactly where you are
In tradition, we can find history and the roots of our own story
Of course, there are other traditions from many cultures that hold exceptional meaning and beauty. Take Holi, a traditional celebration from Northern India in which the participants throw vibrantly colored powder on each other to pay tribute to the many hues of Spring and Hindi mythology.
In Spain, upwards of a million people across Andalucia revive the Pilgrimage of Rocio, a religious event surrounding and celebrating Pentecost. At the center of it all is a 13th-century statue of the Virgin Del Rocio (Virgin of the Dew).
Often donning traditional Andalucian wear and including travel in covered wagons pulled by oxen or on horseback, the entire affair is beautiful. Flowers adorning the wagons, bells and delicately decorated yokes for the oxen … all of it a tradition that is held in high regards within the history of Andalucia.
Remember your ‘road markers’
Beauty can truly be found anywhere we look and that is something I think we, as a society, are slowly losing. It’s a truth that once ran through us so clean and clear. Remember that tradition is a part of all of us, it is the memorization of past events and ‘road markers’ that led us to where we are and where we can go if we just open our eyes and really see. We come from our history and to celebrate those stories can be very enriching to the soul and the spirit in all of us. It is vital in making way for a bridge of connection that can spur us to reach deeper into ourselves and out of our lives, even for a moment.