Chado has become an essential part of my life since I began study two years ago. Struggling at the time to find my place on campus, I felt that the Chado Urasenke Tankokai Urbana-Champaign Association welcomed me with all their hearts. It is a sense of community that I will take with me and look to participate in wherever I go. It is a community built on the philosophies that guide tea.

Learning to sit quietly to make and receive tea forced me to examine how I think and the ways these thoughts become actions. It helped to ease my struggle with intrusive thoughts and cut away at unproductive, toxic thought patterns. If I focused too much on a mistake I would only make subsequent mistakes and the tension of my demeanor would unsettle the guest. Of course too little regard for mistakes is no good either. It's been a project of stepping outside of myself and considering another perspective.

As I move to Japan to teach English I will need to consider how students and community members in a new culture perceive me and how I think of them. It will require a lot of learning from mistakes, to say the least. I know I'll rely on the lessons in patience and careful accommodation too. Ultimately it amounts to finding beauty in the imperfect and unexpected of everyday life when acting with the full force of an open heart.

~ Justin McDonough


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