Intertwined: the pain of Japan

–  Editorial for the April issue of the Dominion, monthly of the Diocese of Long Island  –

As the Dominion goes to print, all of us all over the world throughout the past several days have been both transfixed and horrified by the news, the images, and the video coming forth from the scenes of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The world is in prayer for the Japanese people; praying for the wounded, praying for the lost, praying for the dead, praying for those who grieve, praying for those many whose lives will never be the same. The world is coming to the aid of the Japanese people. Help is arriving in every possible way from every possible source, including Episcopal Relief and Development.  Food, water, medicine, and technical advice as to how to deal with errant nuclear reactors: all this and more the world is sending to its brothers and sisters in Japan.

Devastation in Japan

The Japanese are a people with a long tradition of reflection, introspection, and shared folk wisdom. One old Japanese saying reads this way: “We are no more than candles burning in the wind.” Very few events in a lifetime can reveal the truth of those words, as do the recent 9.0 earthquake and the following tsunami. And yet, those words are true at all times, all over this earth, and at every moment.

Perhaps as we here in the United States struggle to take in the fullness of the recent events in Japan, both the natural disaster and the following human response might move us also to reflection. We belong to one another.  We mirror one another in our vulnerable humanity.  We are responsible to and for one another. It seems that in times when we feel strong, unthreatened by horrors such as those the Japanese have unexpectedly suffered, we can forget those truths. We can, and we do, allow the things that divide us to overshadow and obscure the many more important things that unite us.

For we who are disciples of the Christ, in peacetime or in war, in joy or in sorrow, in times of abundance or in seasons of scarcity, we are called to allow daily the words of Jesus to echo in our hearts and to be reflected in the words we speak and in the deeds of our hands, in our politics and in our financial doings: “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

A further bit of Japanese wisdom says, “Bad and good are intertwined like rope.” So it has always been, and so it will always be as long as this planet continues to turn. May whatever good, intertwined with the pain of these days, be swiftly revealed for the people of Japan. May we, in the name of Christ, continue to respond with generosity and love.

2 thoughts on “Intertwined: the pain of Japan

  1. John,
    Great write-up. I recently saw a show called “undercover millionaire” in which a millionaire goes undercover to some of the poorest places in the US. He stays for a week at a time and finds ways to help the poor with some of his wealth. Anyway, to make a long story short, he went to a food pantry run by people of all faiths and races to see the good work they do. He interviewed and elderly black man and this poor man was a wise man. He said that “there is only one race and it’s called the human race”. When this all happened in Japan a few days ago, it was this man’s words that first came to mind.


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