Today our family took off to enjoy the day together to the Kobe zoo. It was the only day before school starts (Thursday for Owen!) that we could do this. When we arrived, we were thrilled to discover that children could enter for free, and that somehow – mysteriously — spring had sprung and cherry blossoms were in full bloom. Somehow this past month I have missed all the signs of spring coming. It felt so freeing and fun as a family to skip around the zoo and soak up the beautiful weather and environment. I think all six of us equally enjoyed our day. We posted photos that you can view here.
We got home tonight and I read this about the typical hanami viewing and parties that happens across Japan — where groups gather under cherry blossoming trees and celebrate with picnics, drinking, and even karaoke: The governor of Tokyo has made public announcements to encourage people to refrain from holding these hanami parties in Tokyo parks due to the mood of the nation after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and power blackouts.
We are not surprised; Japan, as a nation, is grieving. Tonight on the news they announced that in addition to the 15,000 some who are still missing and presumed dead, there are still five towns/cities who have not reported in number of missing because their city records were destroyed in the tsunami. Two of these are towns where Eric had ministered the past two weeks — towns that virtually are already wiped out. We just felt sick that there could still be many unaccounted for. On the nuclear front, radiation has been found in some fish off the coast. Fishermen have voluntarily stopped fishing while this is further investigated. This isn’t good news for this island nation; even if the reality is not serious the threat of it could cause a lot of panic.
So — I am thankful for cherry blossoms. I hope as they bud and bloom from the south to the north of Japan that they will be a reminder that spring does come, that there are still pockets of beauty and hope to be had. The cherry blossom is the traditional symbol of spring — it is used often in haikus and is a nationwide symbol.
To cherry blooms I come,
and under the blossoms go to sleep –
no duties to be done!
They blossom, and then
we gaze, and then the blooms
scatter, and then…
On the plum tree
one blossom, one blossom-worth
My prayer for Japan:
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
(B) the desert shall rejoice and blossom… (Isaiah 35:1).