Sunday, March 20, 2011

Reach out and Touch

Watching the events of the past week unfold in Japan have been hard to fully understand/comprehend. First it was the earthquake--now they're saying it was a 9 on the Richter Scale. That's huge. Then the tsunami, with the most incredible visual images of the wrath and strength of Mother Nature. Cars, trucks and buildings, floating along in the raging waters. But all of that almost forgotten with the threat of a nuclear meltdown.

But what about the people of Japan who are having to cope with losing so much? I think back to our own post-Katrina experience, when we were without electricity for a week. In Missisisppi. In August. It was HOT. But it wasn't so bad. Neighbors came to the aid of each other, sharing resources and actually talking for the first time, in some cases. It was as if the world came to a standstill for a period of time. No rushing off to work or school. No ballgames or dance class or committee meetings. It was a time to stay home, and wait until the world as we know it could get back to "normal." And during that time, people pulled thawing meat out of freezers and fired up their grills and impromptu block parties ensued.

As our house sweltered, we went to a friend's house a few miles away who had electricity. We packed up food from our refrigerator and freezer and along with the new friend from Slidell, Louisiana (we met him in a gas line) we had a grand dinner party with much food, conversation and laughter in the middle of one of the biggest castastrophies to ever hit our state.

Recently, I received an email from a fellow blogger with a letter she received from an American friend who lives in Sendai, Japan. It reminded me of those Katrina days, and also reminded me of how resiliant and resourceful we can be. This letter was written on March 14, 2011:

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 a sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

It's utterly amazingly that where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their frontdoor 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 of 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 entrance way. 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 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 as part of something happening that much larger than myself.

While I sit in my comfortable, cool home on this first glorious day of spring, I send a prayer up to the people of Japan who are struggling, and at the same time I give thanks for the ability we have to comfort and help one another. Let us not wait until the unimaginable happens to exercise those traits, as there is always someone nearby we can reach out to today.

Here's an idea: Simply text "REDCROSS" to 90999 on your cell phone to make a $10 donation to relief efforts for Japan. The $10 will be added to your already-high cell phone bill! It's easy, it will make you feel good, and it will help others immediately!

Blessings to all who read this!


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