Yesterday I got invited to tea. That´s a first for me. I´m still dazed and not because there was something funny in the tea. No, just because it was the first time. Afterall, I´ve been in these parts since 2018.
You know, teatime is pretty precious for us South Africans. We´re members of the Commonwealth – and follow colonial rites with some determination. Nearly as solemnly as the Japanese do theirs. I´m sure the Queen will approve.
The custom goes way back. At home in Enhlanhleni, teatime at 10h00 was family time. Gathered around the old stone table under the weeping willow. Later, Rooibos became the teetotaler´s nightcap. Sensitive patients drink it all day with only minor side effects.
As pastor doing congregational rounds, the tried and tested ritual would always start with tea first: “With or without milk/sugar?” Sweet and/or savory sides would go without saying. We´d settle in over current affairs before getting to the “Seelsorge-bit” and closing devotions. This later part was the pastoral special. Otherwise, it was just more of the same. That´s how casual visits go down south.
Even here in Luthercity Wittenberg we Webers still pour a cup of tea. Mostly we sip that at our different desks or during democratic updates for citizens on the public broadcaster. That´s balanced (counteracted) by family devotions using the standards of the free church. That´s just ingrained.
Well, yesterday was different. This January I reached the halfway mark, plotted by Superintendent Casparik in his update for newcomers in these parts: “It takes villagers around here 10 years before they notice a newcomer in the parsonage!” You understand, why I´m so beside myself?
This local Wittenberger actually invited me into his home after just 5 years. I got green tea – nothing flat and boring, but rather aromatic, daring and calling for more. And he added his wife´s homemade fruit cake too. Now, that must mean something. I´ll figure it out still. For now, I´ll just celebrate this highwater mark and continue to invite passersby to a cup in the Old Latin School. Perhaps the treasured custom will catch on sooner or later. Yesterday´s host was today´s guest at punctual five o´clock tea. Obviously some like the idea. Until it becomes a standard pastime, we just continue to invite to our daily devotions and especially to the divine services on Sundays – with or without tea.