A Quiet Cup of Tea
Wayne Hoitt remembers this so much better than I.
This was in ’65 or ’66. Wayne and I had been detailed to take a vehicle into Bien Hoa and get it washed. We wound up in one of those bar/cathouses on the main drag in Bien Hoa intending to get a beer +.
We weren’t in there for very long before some little girl at the front door starts yelling “MPs! MPs!” Wayne and I booked out the side door and down an ally, running for all we were worth. We turned left into another alley and left again and wound up in front of some sort of religious temple…Buddhist I think. It was rather small, gray and made of stone or concrete with wide steps leading up to columns that framed tall, carved, wooden double-doors. The doors were open so we ducked inside to get out of sight and waited for a while. The floors of the temple were made of polished yellow wood and there was little or no furniture. It was a beautiful, simple building and relatively cool inside.
Pretty soon, from somewhere in the back of the room (there was only the light coming in from outside) came a little, old monk in a black robe carrying a tray with cups of tea on it. He offered us the tea and then took one for himself. There was no other communication…we just stood there having a quiet cup of tea together. When we finished we made signs of thanks and left and made our way back to our vehicle.
I know it doesn’t seem like much of an event but I was a stump-jumper born and raised in the panhandle of Florida. It’s important to me in that it was the first of many incidents that eventually helped me to view life from a broader perspective than my Bible-Belt upbringing.
The old monk could’ve done a lot of things. God knows what he was thinking! But he chose to have tea with us.