the gift of lament

I have not written a true blog entry here for numerous years, as I’ve ended up posting most stories or events of note on Facebook. But something this week has made me want to chronicle as we have marked ten years of the 3.11 triple disasters. There are so many stories and faces and feelings whirling in my head; it is a gift to be able to separate and share just a few of them with you my reader friends.

24 hour team prayer… carving out time with Annie and a friend late night on Wednesday, then starting Thursday morning with an hour of prayer. Psalms and prayers and heart cries. I couldn’t get through everyone on my heart in my time slots.
Our local schools had decided to close down for the day; we followed suit with Nozomi Project.
The morning visiting numerous friends. The photo below is with our friends – standing where their home used to be. It is now a walkway built on top of a barricade to lessen the impact of future tsunamis. (They gave me permission to use this photo). She shared about watching with horror from the second floor of their home right by the ocean as houses floated past and got snagged by this bridge. The earthquake had actually called the land around the bridge to sink 12 inches. She could not help; she could only watch.

Delivering more cookies – the neighbors around us, friends nearby who had lost a mother, a daughter-in-law, a father. To them it seems that ten years is not a relief but rather contained an added stressor of having to watch the constant news play back images of that day. Chances to give love in the form of hugs, and cookies made by friends across Japan who could not come but wanted to share their hearts and prayers. These were truly such beautiful, beautiful gifts.

K. and I stopped a bit randomly at the home of a neighbor a few blocks away. She came outside and was so happy to have friends just BE with her. Tired of watching the news, she wanted us to hear her story of ten years ago. Oh, how she suffered! Trying to escape with her neighbor who fell into a manhole when they couldn’t see what was in the road. They hung onto fishing nets until they could get to a safe building. Her son rescuing a mom friend and her son who were left stuck on a pole by tsunami waters. Her house tossed virtually on its side. Wearing the same wet clothes for ten days, no warm food or fresh water.

Remembering and telling is so hard but so important. We prayed and we hugged and she received our cookies.

More visits and cookies to other neighbors, the vegetable lady; several families who we knew from Nozomi; a friend of our youngest son who hasn’t left his house for many months. Eric and other teammates going out across town, and to different towns, to remember with people. Going to the site where our friend A-san lost his wife.

Maybe just letting them know that they aren’t alone. Being present.

Eric and Joey led a small gathering for those who wanted to be together at 2:46 when the siren would wail in remembrance of the 18,500 lives that were lost that day. I loved the simple old hymn that we sung. What a good reminder of his presence.

While we were out visiting, two friends made a big pot of tonjiru (pork soup). We didn’t have an official meal time planned, but it was good to have hot steaming soup available to put into sagging or empty or sad hands of anyone who came to be with us that day.

That evening, close to 40 of us gathered at 6:30 for a final time of prayer, worship, and bringing our hearts to God. It was rather informal, but it was one of my favorite times of worship in a long time. We gathered in small groups and prayed together. I loved it that two of our neighbor friends from Indonesia came to this service. One of our dear friends had recently lost her husband; she could cry and we could pray and those tears were mixed with tears from others who were also grieving loss, whether new or old.

The gift of lament. We could not do this every day (it is so exhausting!) but such a gift to do this together.