i haven’t written at all about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan here on sojourning, us or on my design blog at hellonifty, not because i don’t have anything to say but because my heart is just that broken. you see, in case you don’t know me in person, i lived there in some of the places most devastated. i call that part of japan my home in conversation. i call those people my people with a fondness that can only be expressed in tone of voice inaccessable here on the internet. i have people i still call my family and my friends who were once there, most of them i know are safe, some of them i do not. i have places permanently etched into my memories that have been erased, washed away, and are gone forever … or are for quite sometime no longer accessible because of radiation from the daiichi nuclear plant.
fukushima-ken has my heart. tohoku (northern japan) is my home away from home. i have never felt more at home anywhere else than i did in Japan, home staying in kashima-machi (known now as minamisoma) or serving the fukushima first bible baptist church (you can click the english link on their front page for donation options and for pastor akira sato’s diary in english. it’s, uh, really heartbreaking, so have some tissues, okay? i can’t read it without crying) in tomioka-machi (where the daiichi plant is).
all of these places are in the evacuation zone; both places i may never see in person again in my lifetime without the potential for health risk. so many of the places i remember have been damaged, if not destroyed.
this still crushes me.
i lay awake at night, our windows open to the breeze, and stare at the ceiling when i cannot sleep, making myself remember all the places i saw, all the places i took for granted. i pray for the church that took me in, that let a foreigner like me into their hearts and homes, a church that now is scattered, most having migrated to tokyo to begin a new life in a strange place. i pray for the displaced, all of them. so many of them were tied for generations to their lands (rich, beautiful farm land) on the coast of tohoku. now, they have nothing. i pray for my home stay family who are retired and have to start over somewhere new, for the hopelessness that must weigh heavily on the hearts of everyone from those tiny coastal towns. i pray for the Christians who are now working hard to bring hope to the places that need it most. i pray that broken hearts and broken lives will be made new.
but, sometimes the words are hard to say. sometimes, it hurts too much and i hesitate.
it hurts because even though i am not japanese, part of me is missing.
a part i do not have words for. a part i cannot name.
it hurts because i am reminded how much i have let slip away. i have not been in touch with the church since my husband and i visited on our first anniversary. i have not kept in contact with the people i held—no hold still—so dear to my heart.
i feel guilty.
the weight of my forgetfulness is a burden that i don’t know what to do with.
i want to cross the ocean just to say i’m sorry.
i’m so sorry.
you see, i am still so very much in love with Japan. the small seed that God put there so many years ago has grown into a deep-rooted tree in my heart. it’s a wild, untamed tree right now, overgrown like the rest of my spiritual garden, but it’s still so beautiful. i literally ache with longing to be back there sometimes. it’s a tangible feeling. like pins and needles inside my chest.
the road to recovery is going to be long. and difficult. even once our media here stops talking about the devastation, people there will still be devastated. people there will still be suffering and struggling. the damage is internal as well as external.
one day, sooner rather than later, i hope to be back there, family in tow. i want to hug and weep and pray. i want to love and sing and cherish. i want to remember old joys. i want to celebrate new beginnings.
Share your thoughts?