>Several years ago I spent some time at Tassajara. It’s a wonderful retreat that is owned by the San Francisco Zen community that also owns Green Gulch.
Anyway, I was remembering one of my experiences there that remains vivid in my mind. The first morning, I was gently awakened by the monk walking on the paths that surround the lodgings ringing the meditation bell. This was at 5am and we had something like 20 minutes to get to the meditation hall. I was anxious and tired at the same time. My first thought was to go to the outdoor beverage station to see if I could get a little tea to help me wake up a bit. If meditation was anything like I experienced at home, there was a high likelihood of falling asleep! Not what I wanted to do in this formal settling.
As I approached the beverage area, the early morning chill motivated me even more to experience the warmth of the hot tea. As I got closer, I could see several monks, in robes, hovering around the area. Much to my surprise, they were having coffee! I guess my surprise was because I pictured monks as being these perfect beings who meditate and hang out in a zone where coffee is not needed. I was delighted to experience their humanness. I joined them and bonded over coffee. For the remainder of my stay, I took part in the pre-meditation coffee ritual and enjoyed every moment of it.
Did I have an amazing meditation experience? I don’t remember. But I do remember enjoying coffee with the monks.