View from the Dentist’s Chair

(To be read with a southern twang)

Just went to the dentist. Generally, I don’t mind so much. But today I think the technician took several layers of gum tissue off with her scraper thingy. And I’m pretty sure she flung some red toothpaste into my hair although on further investigation I don’t see it. My teeth kind of feel abused, like they’ve been pushed into another time zone. And all the Chapstick in the world won’t repair the damage my lips suffered.

Nevertheless, we had a lovely chat covering visits to the fair over the summer, today’s politics, school news and events, and the joys of being female. Well, she chatted away glibly and I answered in grunts and grins while full on sentences of wit and wisdom percolated in my head. Then came the inevitable question… are you flossing regularly? Define regularly… like once every full moon or every fortnight or on special holidays or the week before my next dental appointment because if that qualifies as regularly than yes I can honestly say yes. I hate flossing my teeth. It just seems so… gross. Threading string through your teeth, wrapping the wet parts around your fingers, trying to extricate your fingers from the tight, tourniquet of floss, and then finding that the dog is licking the floss out of the garbage bin next to the toilet… GROSS.

Ahhh, the dentist office… the only place in town with 20 year old posters on the ceiling staring down at you and with 70s folk rock playing in the background. White lights, plastic on everything, people walking around in gloves and funny glasses and masks – these seem to define a dentist office. It’s the only place where sucking on a straw is encouraged, where drooling is appropriate, and where adults get to wear bibs guilt free. And yet, this modern day torture parlor is so glamorous and so posh and so readily available.

In the coming week, our second CompassioNow/Compassion Tea team will be heading to Africa and with them they will be taking a portable dentist chair. 0-8The chair folds up and can be carried on one’s back. It has a solar panel so that when the dentist is hiking through the bush to the next clinic, he or she can also be charging the portable dental drill attached to the chair. Because there aren’t dentist’s offices in the bush and because most people in the bush of Africa don’t go to the dentist for a general cleaning. They would (if they could) go because they need a tooth extracted, because they’ve been in pain for months with toothache, because they don’t brush regularly let alone floss. No, the dentist has to come to them, in an airplane because there are no drivable ways to get to them. And the dentist comes about as regularly as I floss. There are so many villages in the bush, so many crooked smiles, so many teeth to extract, so much pain to relieve.

Which reminds me of my daughter who over the weekend got in the truck as we headed out for the day’s camping adventure and realized she hadn’t brushed her teeth. A solid 15 minutes of complaining, wailing, pleading for gum no one had ensued. It’s so good to be so pampered.

Campaign Promises

Every morning, I run the same drill. Feet hit the floor and the ankles and heels start screaming. I stumble toward the bathroom to grab something warm and my phone and then head outside with the dog to mincingly make my way down the driveway to get the newspaper. I check emails as I go and then glance at the day’s headlines on the way back up the driveway. This morning, I laughed out loud when I opened my inbox.

To Drink More Tea!

There, thanks to Princess Cruises, was the single most clever ad campaign I have ever seen. Concerned that I might be “tired of all the negative news,” Princess Cruises is offering “The Campaign to Escape Completely!” From now until Election Day, the cruise-line is giving away free cruises where you can really and truly escape from the media for a few days. Floating on a big boat, with food readily available, pools aplenty, and no TV or newspapers? Right on! Sign me up!

It doesn’t matter which way you lean politically, there is enough fuel to flame the fires of distrust, self-righteousness, and dare I say even hatred for the other side. When we were visiting Ohio this past August, the Olympics were wrapping up and there were events we wanted to watch, but every other commercial was political in nature. First, one would blame the present administration for not solving our country’s economic problems. Next, the present administration would scare women and seniors into believing that should there be a change in the presidential watch they can kiss their current benefits good-bye. It was emotional; it was fluff; it was ugly. I feel for the swing states these days. You are in the heart of a bitter, media-driven, war of words where no one seems to be 100% truthful, 100% genuine, or 100% tuned into reality. (And right now I may need to wrap my tongue in gauze I’m biting it so hard.)

So, what does this have to do with tea? Not a whole lot, truth be told! I can offer you the chance to relax and unwind with a cup of tea… maybe one of our new flavors? Have you tried Jade Cloud or Bai Hao or Coconut Oolong or West Cape Chai yet? Or the Lavender Sage Rooibos or Lemon Mint Rooibos are fantastic for centering and grounding… as long as you leave your media outlets turned off. Tea is very relaxing. Waiting for the water to boil, watching the leaves steep, pouring a cup, taking the first slurp… all are steps in patience, settling down, calming, breathing more deeply, creating a mood for contemplation. Take some time.

A few days ago, I was reading through one of my favorite chapters of the Bible – Isaiah 40. For us, the weary-worn electorate, this chapter holds great comfort. I’m going to quote from The Message translation because it is just so fun and accessible:

12 – 17: Who has scooped up the ocean
in his two hands, or measured the sky between his thumb and little finger?
Who has put all the earth’s dirt in one of his baskets,
weighed each mountain and hill?
Who could ever have told God what to do
or taught him his business?
What expert would he have gone to for advice,
what school would he attend to learn justice?
What god do you suppose might have taught him what he knows, showed him how things work?
Why, the nations are but a drop in a bucket,  a mere smudge on a window.
Watch him sweep up the islands
like so much dust off the floor!
There aren’t enough trees in Lebanon
nor enough animals in those vast forests to furnish adequate fuel and offerings for his worship.
All the nations add up to simply nothing before him— less than nothing is more like it. A minus.

21 – 24: Have you not been paying attention? Have you not been listening?
Haven’t you heard these stories all your life?
Don’t you understand the foundation of all things?
God sits high above the round ball of earth. The people look like mere ants. He stretches out the skies like a canvas—
 yes, like a tent canvas to live under.
He ignores what all the princes say and do.
 The rulers of the earth count for nothing.
Princes and rulers don’t amount to much.
 Like seeds barely rooted, just sprouted,
they shrivel when God blows on them.
 Like flecks of chaff, they’re gone with the wind.

Did you catch that? Nations are like a drop in the bucket. The rulers of the earth count for nothing. In the grand scheme of things, as we like to say, this election process really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. It is much ado about nothing. Chaff in the wind, blown away on the slightest breeze. Our nation is struggling to maintain a way of life. We are trying to maintain a life we believe is built on free-enterprise, hard-work, and freedom. Some of us want it to be more so while some others of us believe in the power of the government to help us reach our goals. But in the end, who is in ultimate control?

During her speech at the Global Leadership Summit, Condoleeza Rice shared that while she was Secretary of State, she would often ask the leaders around the table whether they were more concerned about today’s headlines or tomorrow’s history.  Boiled down, her question is this: Are we shooting for the popular decision or the right decision? Over the course of the next 7 weeks we are going to be treated to a continuing barrage of ire and political mayhem. Then, we will know the leadership for the next four years. What will that tell us? Will it really tell us our future individually or collectively? Probably not. Whichever way the election goes, those grand and glorious campaign promises are going to be promptly broken whether because the promise was just a line to get the vote or whether “the other side” gridlocked the process. Decisions will be made both for the popular reasons and for the right reasons. And one person’s “right reason” is another’s “stupid reason.” That’s the way it is.

Ultimately, it will all work out… because God is on His throne. In the meantime, I suggest a cup of tea and maybe a free cruise.

Tea… Your Civic Duty

But events leading up to that momentous occasion involved tea!

Are you feeling patriotic? Tis the season! Let’s see. What does that look like? Hang a flag out front, purchase the smoke bombs and sparklers where legal, fire up the grill, find your red, white, and blue t-shirt and shorts, maybe sing a few bars of “The Star Spangled Banner” or “Yankee Doodle”, brew up the iced tea, and invite the friends over to enjoy the day off. This year, with athletes being chosen for the Olympics as we speak, we have even more to feel patriotic over. And the fanfares and symbols of our nation are played and displayed prominently – patriotism as marketing tool. What’s it all about? On Wednesday, we’ll celebrate the Fourth of July, which marks the day the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted by 12 of the original 13 colonies and church bells rang out over Philadelphia announcing this adoption (July 4, 1776). But events leading up to that momentous occasion involved tea!

For years, the British government had been taxing the American colonists, who consumed roughly 1.2 million pounds of tea per year, on their purchase of tea. In an effort to avoid these taxes, colonists including John Hancock and Samuel Adams began smuggling tea in from Dutch and other European markets. Frustrated by the loss of revenue, the British crown passed the Tea Act of 1773, which gave the British East India Company a full monopoly on tea sales in the American colonies. Seeing their economic interests jeopardized, Hancock and Adams began billing this tea act as an abolishment of human rights, the famous “taxation without representation” argument.

On the evening of Dec. 16, 1773, over 116 men (this is the number of documented participants but many more participated anonymously to avoid punishment) dressed in blankets with painted faces and hands and carrying tomahawks boarded three ships docked in Boston Harbor. Over the course of the next three hours, they dumped 240 chests of Bohea, 60 chests of Singlo, 15 chests of Congou, 15 chests of Hyson, and 10 chests of Souchong teas. These are all varieties of black and green tea from China. The teas belonged to the British East India Company and it is estimated that the damages from this tea party were approximately £9,659 in 1773 currency.

Reports from the time indicate that the 92,000 lbs. of tea dumped into Boston Harbor caused it to smell for weeks after the event. The British government closed the port of Boston until all 340 chests of tea had been paid for. This did little to settle relations between the colonists and the crown. (To read more about the role of tea in the American Revolution, visit www.bostonteapartyship.com.)

So, we better do our civic duty this Fourth of July! Toast our great nation with a great tea. And make it a Compassion Tea!