i’m out here in the woods with my Minnesota family – my baby sister, her two babies, and all of her magnificent in-laws. it feels very safe here, very quiet and meditative. the cycles of life here are very much related to growing of children, and the growing and making of food.
almost everything we eat was grown in their garden and canned or preserved, or bought in the meat market nearby. my brother-in-law is making maple syrup for the first time this year. they chop up wood to heat their home. it’s wonderful to experience this kind of relationship with land, place, and food – especially given my current love affair with Detroit…
and all the time, we are following the triple crises in japan. japan, the dragon, her chest bursting with nuclear radiation, tsunami force having decimated the length of her after an earthquake knocked her off her feet.
i have never been to a place that felt so capable of living right as japan. my parents were stationed there for several years, during which i spent a lot of time in tokyo, and got to go visit kyoto and hiroshima, as well as many smaller towns and villages throughout the southern part of the country.
when i think about resilience and common sense, i think about the architecture of japan, the social norms of the people i met there in terms of respect for elders and each other, even the vigilance around germs in public spaces.
when i saw hiroshima, with it’s massive memorial to it’s own decimation, i understood how a country could properly honor a massive man-made disaster, a senseless moment of war.
bitter about how incapable the u.s. has been around 9/11 memorializing, i observed the healing that occurred simply by telling the truth of what happened, and the repercussions – the flesh falling away, the babies born without skin, the instant painful mass deaths…the distance between the people who suffered and the government who played at war. holding the truth of what happened, the real suffering, allowed the nation to move forward, to transform.
i came away from japan convinced that we in the u.s. have so much to learn from this country in terms of healing with grace at the individual and community level.
i cannot help but wonder how resilient we have to be, how much common sense we have to bring into our living now. perhaps the better way to ask the question in this reactive time is: will we survive if we don’t begin to practice national and community resilience and common sense?
what japan is experiencing reminds me of new orleans a few short years ago…natural disaster finding the weakest parts of man-made structures, creating incomprehensible mega-crises where the majority of people who suffer are those who can’t buy their way out of the path of destruction.
i don’t remember most of what i learned in bible study classes, but i never forget the stories of jonah and job. jonah ran away from the responsibility of being the one to tell his people it was time to change, ran until he ended up in a whale’s belly and realized that the only way he could live was to tell his people the truth of god. job was a faithful man who god selected to test with unimaginable punishments, to prove the power of job’s faith to god.
when job proved his faith, all that he had lost was returned to him anew – replacement wife, children, crops…
when i was young, reading these stories, i always thought about the other people in the story – the people who didn’t listen to jonah, the other men on the ship when jonah was beset by storms that led him into the whale’s mouth; the first wife and children of job. i was troubled by any faith that had expendables in its parables. that hasn’t changed for me…
seeing a picture the other day of parents finding their dead child in a vehicle after the tsunami/earthquake in japan, i thought of these biblical stories back to back, both the one about the truth teller, and the one about the sufferer.
resilience means having a capacity for both of these things, telling the truth that is universal, that is urgent – about the environment, the myth of clean nuclear energy, what is coming if we don’t change our ways – AND the suffering without reason.
for japan to face this nuclear threat again, less than a century after the bombs fell on hiroshima and nagasaki, after a tsunami and an earthquake, is suffering beyond all reason or comprehension.
who will step forth as a the truthtellers in this situation? who will come through all of this suffering with their faith intact – faith in humanity, in miracles, in interconnectedness…?
i don’t know that i would. i pray for humanity, for everyone experiencing grief and loss and lostness right now – actually being cut off from their lives, from anything normal – in japan and elsewhere in the world. and i pray that we turn, as soon as we can, because there is no better time – to truthtelling, to resilience that pulls us through suffering, whole.
p.s. happy st patrick’s day, from an enclave of irish in-laws.