Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fall Seven Times - Stand Up Eight

"Fall seven times - stand up eight." (Japanese proverb)

When I think of Japan, this is what comes to mind.  Serenity.  Peace.  Beautiful gardens.  Haiku and silk kimonos.  Beauty found in the smallest brush stroke and every sip of green tea.  A people living in a world that is one with nature.  I admit that I've never been to Japan, so most of what comes to mind are just images; my imagination at work, as it often is, creating "pretty pictures" for me to think about.

But then, life intrudes on the pretty pictures and gives me a jolt.  Ten days ago, a massive earthquake (the 5th largest in history) rocked northern Japan and generated 40 ft. tall tsunami waves that pulverized the country, killing thousands, leaving millions homeless.

And I've been left mostly speechless.  Humbled by the awesome power of the ocean and Earth.  Staggered, as I'm sure the survivors of this tragedy are, by the random suddenness of it.  One minute, it was just another Friday afternoon:  children heading home from school, people looking forward to the weekend.  Twenty minutes later, their entire world destroyed.

The shock waves from the quake and tsunami traveled all the way to my little world.  Harbors in Crescent City, CA and Brookings, OR destroyed.  Ripples of fear, fueled by sensational media reports, sent some people scurrying to other "safer" parts of the world.  And though I was certain that I and Deborah were safe and sound, I wondered, "What was there for me to learn from this?"

Then I saw this picture, and many others like it.

A small group of survivors in Japan, surrounded by the rubble of all that they perhaps once knew as their homes.  Praying.  Not fighting, not weeping, not angry, not running to "someplace safer".  Praying together.  I'm sure asking God for help.  Praying for each other.  Patiently waiting to rebuild a world in shambles.

The picture moves me.  Such is the nature of true courage; of true grace; of true strength.  These people show me that when Life's storms rock my world, when its tsunamis wash away my confidence and poise, my real strength will be found simply in surrendering - surrendering to Life, asking God for help, instead of scrambling to "fix everything" myself, or crying out in anguish.  And they remind me of the power of persistence.  Patiently waiting.  Being willing to accept what Life brings to me, and to act when called, knowing that what I need will be given me.

Precious pearls uncovered by this tragedy, thousands of miles away.

Today I pray for the people of Japan.  May they receive the help they need.

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