Question of the week: What Just Happened Here?

Japan. We watch the ordinary present disappear in moments.  Whole towns become archeological digs–not pretty, not yet historical. Real people wandering through real-time chaos, horror and displacement. Earthquake. Tsunami. Radiation. The character of a people is shown to the world through the words and images streaming out of Japan. I bow a bow of deep respect. We are being given many lessons here–the world watching itself learning something.

And this evening comes this email–from someone I don’t know, my name on a list among names I don’t recognize, and the writer identified only as “…from a friend of a friend – from my cousin in Sendai, Japan where she has lived for the past decade teaching English.” This letter from the heart of a stranger says it all: the boldface emphasis comes from me–as I am so struck by the universality of the message the writer is sending.

Hello My Lovely Family and Friends,

First I want to thank you so very much for your concern for me. I am very touched. I also wish to apologize for a generic message to you all. But it seems the best way at the moment to get my message to you.?? Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to ?have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even ?more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend’s home. We share ?supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful. During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out sign so people can come to fill up their jugs ?and buckets.

Utterly amazingly where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in ?lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an ?earthquake strikes. People keep saying, “Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.” Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens ?are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.??We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for ?half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. ??But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not.

No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much ?more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of ?non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group. There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some ?places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. ??People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking ?their dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No ?cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered ?with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. ??The mountains are Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them ?silhouetted against the sky magnificently.??And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to ?check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, ?and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from ?whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking?to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they ?need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, ?no.

They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is ?a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is ?better off than others.  Last night my friend’s husband came in from the ?country, bringing food and water. Blessed again. ??Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed? an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world ?right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now ?in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I ?felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel a ?part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of ?birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent. Thank you again for your care and Love of me. With Love in return, to you all,

I don’t know who this writer is: the gender, nationality, or any particular of his/her life: but I know our connection. I know s/he is living through something with awareness on behalf of us all. For those of us watching from our relative comfort, it is our job to receive, to mirror, to bear witness, and to celebrate this wave of birthing. It is our job to prepare ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually for when it is our turn to be “the teacher” stumbling through the media eye of the world, stunned with chaos and starlight and the kindness we set out for one another like food and water.

What just happened here?

I cannot even name it yet, but my vow to Japan is to stay awake to what their suffering teaches, and to stay connected to our common needs. This is not fast recovery and the tale is not fully told.

0 replies
  1. Marilyn Steers
    Marilyn Steers says:

    I live in a small town in Alberta and last week we gathered in circle to discuss how we as a community to provide a shared voice of empathy to Japan. Our circle included several Japanese men and women who either are here on work visas or have established businesses in our community. (As a resort community we have a long and rich history with the Japanese people including a sister city (Hakone), an annual exchange program, millions of Japanese visitors over the years, etc.)
    As we moved around the circle each of them shared. “My name is… I come from… My family, my friends, my community has been affected ….” Profoundly moving! This week our local paper is carrying those stories and putting a human face on what we watch on TV. Thanks Christina for sharing this letter, a wonderful gift for me to share with others.

    Reply
  2. Diane Tilstra
    Diane Tilstra says:

    Thank you for these beautiful thoughts that arise from such tragedy. I, too, hold affirming vows of staying connected in my community in ways that go deeper so that if we are called upon to help one another, we can. I can see the resilience and determination of the Japanese people in the face of this enormous challenge.

    Reply

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