In the tra­di­tion of the Japan­ese Tea Cer­e­mo­ny, an azu­maya is a wait­ing room or arbor, where a per­son may qui­et­ly con­tem­plate and enjoy a view of the sur­round­ing gar­den before enter­ing the cer­e­mo­ny. Tra­di­tion­al­ly, an azu­maya is an open affair, no walls, in order to let in the light and breezes and sur­round­ing energy. 

When I think of wait­ing I am always remind­ed of some­thing the Bud­dha report­ed­ly said: “Wait­ing is the hard­est thing.”

Well, it cer­tain­ly is for me. I have trou­ble stand­ing in lines, in stores, at air­ports, let alone wait­ing for enlight­en­ment. I become agi­tat­ed when clients for­get to process an invoice and I have to call or write to remind them. I have trou­ble wait­ing for my auto­mat­ed options or being placed on hold, on the phone and in life. Not much patience, I’m afraid. It takes me some time to relax, calm down, take a moment to view the gar­den that sur­rounds me. 


Which, I sup­pose, is exact­ly the point of any azu­maya, a beau­ti­ful place to sit and notice the shades of nature. Just yes­ter­day, my busy sched­ule was inter­rupt­ed by a tree releas­ing its dessi­cat­ed red and yel­low leaves to the warmth of autumn. I stood still while the leaves tum­bled soft­ly around me and like stars blew away down the street. Their sweet, dry smell trig­gered mem­o­ries of child­hood. An azu­maya, in this way I sup­pose, may not only be a place, but also be a few pri­vate moments before enter­ing the next main event, what­ev­er that may be.

The genius of this place, these moments, is the open­ing they give for light, for the breeze, for the ener­gy I might oth­er­wise hard­ly notice. They remind me of the back­ground, and for an instant or two, as that back­ground comes for­ward, thought stops in favor of the name­less. And then I am ready to go on.

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