Kenyans drink a lot of chai. For breakfast, mid-morning, lunch, mid-afternoon, supper. Maybe other times in between. Basically, any time of day is a good time for chai. And my favorite part of drinking chai is the time it takes to drink it.
Not because it takes long to guzzle it down, but because it involves putting everything else on pause in order to sit down together.
During mid-morning chai time at the hospital, Eli and his team of residents and interns would pause rounding on patients in order to sit down at a table and drink chai together.
During mid-morning chai time at our house, the boys and I would pause homeschooling and our househelper would pause cleaning/cooking so we could sit down at the table and drink chai together.
This was not a gathering at the water cooler. We did not stand around and make small talk about the weather. Not exactly.
We sat down at the table together, we prayed over the chai, and we talked. Sometimes about the weather, yes, but about many other things as well. We talked about where we came from, what songs were sung at church, the best way to eat a loquat, why our kids wanted to carve faces into pumpkins, what we'd be cooking for the Christmas meal, my multiple language blunders, and much more.
Basically, we spent time appreciating each other and trying to understand each other better. It was a way of loving one another.
And sometimes we didn't say much at all. Yet the long silences that sometimes ensued while sipping chai were not uncomfortable. We didn't feel obligated to fill the silence. There was peace in simply sitting around a table together, pausing from everything else, and being still together.
Asa drinking his first cup of chai
Recently our family took a break not unlike chai time. It was a time of putting everything else on pause, of intentionally sitting down together to appreciate each other and understand each other better, and sometimes to sit in silence together and let that be okay. It was a sort of chai time for life.
It took a few weeks, and actually required a lot of heart work, and was so very good. We came away feeling more connected, more patient and present with each other, and ready to unpause and dive back into life. The only thing that could've made it better is if there'd been an actual cup of chai in our hands!
As we prepare to head back to Kenya in a few weeks, we look forward to re-embracing the rhythm of chai time, of pausing together to intentionally be together. This, I believe, is one way we can love each other well.