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A Cup of Tea, Before Sunrise
by Dr. Ed Gamboa
Reprint from Asian Journal
February 21, 2009

There is something to be said about getting up early in the morning – before the sun rises – saying your prayers (Vigils, as the monks and hermits do), then sipping a warm cup of herbal tea, or hot coffee, as the case may be.
The sun hesitates to rise above the horizon, your clock slows gently down, and life takes a calm and tranquil turn. Somehow, it isn’t night or day, nothingness or being…just you, immersed in the wonder of God’s immeasurable creation.
The children are not off to school yet, or, if they are in college, they are in never-never land; your spouse may still be dreaming dreams; the world, in any event, has not yet decided to stir from its slumber.
Merchants have not opened their shops nor have businesses started counting their monies. In your side of the globe, the politicians have yet to grab their microphones and no one has fired a gun; peace , for the moment, reigns supreme.
The hustle and bustle of city traffic have not mercilessly encroached into your day. You have not stepped on the unending treadmill of life’s familiar rat race.
Your troubles are nowhere in sight. Your obligations are somewhere in the distance. Your list of things to do is not within reach. There is a stream of happiness in your soul and a sparkle of gladness in your spirit.
You’ve had a good night’s rest and the physical world has chosen not to bombard your senses, yet. In the back of your mind, you know this nirvana will not last forever. You pick up the morning papers, or worse, turn on your TV, and you know that magical moment will vanish into thin air!
There is in our inner core an attraction to this treasured moment. Harried office staffers may not realize it, but I assume that is why they pass by Starbucks for a cup of latte or cappuccino on their way to work. Others forego the coffee and pass by church for traditional early morning Mass. While still others simply kiss their slumbering wife and children goodbye before heading out of the house before dawn.
The mystics recognize this as the deepest tranquil point and central stillness of our being, where we are linked in communion with the One who created us.
When you were a child, you would not sit quietly, sip a cup of tea and contemplate like this. You would rub your eyes, bolt out of bed and, without caring to wash your face or brush your teeth, confront the world headlong like an energizer bunny.
I do recall, on lazy Saturday mornings, when school was closed (thanks God), my little brothers and sisters would sit in the patio or the outside staircase or on the steps leading to the dirty kitchen adjacent to the house, and spend a half hour or so just staring at the yard. We would watch a frog leap from the wet grass and busy flies buzzing from the fence to the clothesline.  Or we would simply observe ants lining up in procession up the post.
Sikwate Talk - “Over a cup of sikwate”
Sit, relax, and enjoy what life’s got to offer.  Like a cup of “sikwate”, it’s dark, raw, pure, and sweetened to taste.  That’s how the journey is.  Like falling leaves, it’s family re-tracing its roots and going back to the basics.  This section will feature what life’s got to offer OVER A CUP OF “SIKWATE”.  Look forward to more articles.  It’s the “sikwate” talk.
Every so often, our father would ask if we wanted to go with him to pick up something. All excited, we would file, in our pajamas, into the old Studebaker, and fight for the window seats. Papa would drive to a tiny spot, just outside the city, where an old, old lady would be cooking puto maya. She would wrap the steamed sticky sweet rice in banana leaves and, with a toothless smile, proudly hand her home made delicacies to us i n a brown paper bag. For a few pesos or centavos more, Papa would buy a potful of sikwate (native hot chocolate) with it.
Sometimes, we would stop by the bakery for a bagful of hot pan de sal. When we arrived home with our prized goodies, Mama would be waiting for us at the breakfast table, where she had set a plateful of sliced ripe mangoes from Guadalupe. Wow, that was heaven on earth!