Five years have passed since that day that rocked Japan and the world. This is my last beauty and brokenness entry this year. I’m going to close with two photos that are representative of this day, and how beauty and brokenness are commingled here where we live.The past two days have been filled with listening, crying, praying, worshipping. I have heard new stories of 3/11 experiences; I have listened again to some repeat ones. It is a strange thing to live in a town that is filled with so much sorrow; where everyone you meet has experienced major loss and trauma. Each story is so important.
Photo 1, beauty and brokenness:
This first picture is the daughter of M., one of my good mom friends. (She gave me permission to share!). She brought her two girls by our gathering place this morning to talk, and it was great to have a wonderful bag of homemade cookies to give them, representing love and prayers sent from across Japan. While her girls played in one room, M. came in the kitchen where two of us were making soup. She began sharing her story from five years ago… She and her small daughter fled to a mountain top and survived on small packets of tofu for three days; her parents barely survived the tsunami as it flooded their home. (They survived because the neighbors behind them threw down a top made out of sheets from a second floor window). Her sister was due with a baby, and had to be helicoptered to Senda to give birth. Five days later, she delivered her baby, but her husband still wasn’t found. She sent him a picture on her cellphone of their new baby, hoping he would somehow see it. His body was found some days later. M.’s story is so mixed with joy and sorrow it is hard to process it all. Still. But today it was an honor to be there for her and her girls; to listen and cry and remember. To give them a tangible gift representative of love from around the world.
For our Be One team, we struggle to find the most appropriate way to show love and respond to people’s ongoing pain and struggles. We choose pretty simple and informal styles in which we can adjust and respond to the needs that we see. We closed the past 24 hours this evening with a gathering of worship and sharing. We asked any of our local friends to share things that they’ve learned the past five years. As we passed around the mike, we heard many touching stories. One of our older local friends started to share but couldn’t finish – the pain was still so raw. And then our friend Joey closed by sharing from Psalm 23 and ending with two simple things: 1) God isn’t done here yet – greater things are still to come in this city! and 2) We are “one” as a community – we stand together through the valleys, the pain, and the joy. It is good to have such a place to belong!
As we closed and stood in a large circle, holding hands, I felt so thankful (and quite weepy!) for the privilege of being in this place that is so intermingled with pain but priceless friendships. I am so incredibly thankful that in the middle of such brokenness there are wonderful communities like the one we experience where hope is being born.