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Taking the lid off the teapot June 25, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Theological Reflection.

TeapotIn our last post we —

“Hey, Phil, what’s with the ‘we’ business?”
It’s because there’s more than one of me.
“More than one of you?”
It’s complicated. Just listen for a moment, OK?

— as I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted, in my last post we finished by taking the lid off the teapot, and it was empty.

For me personally this presents something of an existential crisis: I’m a coffee drinker. But let’s imagine, for a moment, that we’re tea drinkers. What do tea drinkers do when they encounter an empty teapot? I was brought up in a family of tea drinkers: life revolved around the teapot. Notice that: the teapot never revolved around us — the teapot was always at the centre, always there, always within reach, at the heart of our daily devotions.

There might even have been times when the teapot was in control: when it was empty, we’d put the kettle on; and if the kettle was empty, we’d fill it from the tap. The teapot never demanded our attention, but always received it; and it never, ever, as far as I remember, went into orbit.

But what happens when the tap runs dry? If you’re like my Dad, you get out your kit box and start crawling around the pipework until you’ve fixed it; and if you can’t fix it, you call a plumber.

I suppose another alternative would be to declare all tea drinkers insane, throw a hissy fit Dickie Dorkins style and smash the teapot; but I’m not convinced that’s going to help the tea party run any more smoothly. Far better, if you can’t find a plumber, to take a trip down to the river and fill the kettle there.

But what if the river’s run dry? Down to the sea, I guess. Trouble is, us humans can’t drink from the sea. Put that stuff in your kettle and you’ve got problems: seawater and human life simply aren’t compatible.

So you start to wander along the shore, kinda lost; and as you wonder what next, you discover something amazing: people playing. Some, just in the shallows, barely dipping a toe in; some surfing, swimming, sailing; and others, putting out into deeper water, unafraid of the vastness…

And as you look out towards the horizon where the sea kisses the sky you realise: this is it. This is where the water comes from and returns to, endlessly cycling, no beginning, no end… and you, you and I, we’re a part of that deep, a part of that mystery: that same water flows in our veins, pumps through our hearts, powers our souls, our lives, our very being.

Flying teapots? Pull the other one, Professor Dawkins: there’s something much deeper, much more profound, going on here. The teapot may be empty, it might even be cracked and broken… but as someone much wiser than me said recently:

Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light.


1. fromthesamesky - June 26, 2009

“Ring the bells, that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack, there is a crack, in everything
that’s how the light gets in”

Leonard Cohen

It’s been in my head all week!

Phil Groom - June 26, 2009

Hey, I like that! That’s you and bourach doing Cohen on me… maybe I’d better get tuned in!

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