In the front, are my friend, my Sensei (teacher), and me in my kimono.
One of the most wonderful parts of learning traditional Japanese arts is the ritual 'Zen' of the practice. Every movement is done with a purpose and in the most economical way possible. Every detail of the tea ceremony is performed in such a way as to do the job in the least possible steps and with exactly the same movements every time. The result is that you become completely absorbed in the task at hand. There is no concern for past or future, and therefore, you are completely in the moment. What one should be able to take from the experience is 'harmony' with nature, 'respect' for those you serve, 'purity' of body and thought through the cleansing ritual, and 'tranquility' of the mind.
Each time I went to the tea house, which was also my teacher's home, there would be an entry ritual. I would arrive at the little tea house hidden from the city behind a curtain of living bamboo trees. From the path, I would call through the sliding paper door, "I am so sorry, please." My teacher inside would reply, "Please, rise up."
When it was time to go, my sensei would come out of the tea house in her kimono and little wooden getta (shoes) and wave good-bye to me. She would always walk into the street and wave until I was down the lane and around the corner and almost to the train platform. As long as there was a glimpse of me, she would wave.
The last time that I saw my sensei, she was a few weeks from her death from cancer. I visited her in the hospital, and I sang, 'Comin' thro' the rye.' She got out of her hospital bed when it was time for me to go and went into the hallway and waved good-bye to me until I was down the hall and the elevator door shut.