Like this day last year, I'm in Ireland. Thankfully there was nothing as dramatic or horrifying on the TV news this time around. Today I attended a beautiful concert in aid of children suffering from PTSD in the Tohoku region.
My heart goes out to everyone connected to Tohoku and all the emotions that will resurface today. For those who lost loved ones and those who are still hoping to find closure for their personal journey. Today part of Higashi-Matsushima Shi was here in Dublin with me.
In May last year I visited a small coastal town that saw its world turned upside down in a heartbeat. I met comedian san, http://www.blogger.com/blogger.gblogID=2870931379825235121#editor/target=post;postID=2881754181117456658 we had come back after our rounds of pet care and food drops and helped him and his friends clear debris. There was everything in the mountain we were working through. Hospital health records, sports trophies, single shoes, kids' toys (everywhere) and what caused the strongest stabs of sadness were the photos. The photos of happier times. Weddings, graduations, new babies every life milestone was in these mountains of debris.
The place we were clearing was about 3 miles inland. We were at the foot of a hill.The whole town arrived onto the Sanno's property as the natural topography stopped the laden wave in its path.They not only had their own destruction to deal with but everyone else's as well. The tractors, the garden sheds, the washing machines, the fridges, the villager's belongings were there piled up to the second floor level in what used to be the Sanno's garden. And this was MAY already 2 months later.
We worked, we lifted, we dug, we disentangled all afternoon . When it was time to drive back to Sendai Mrs. Sanno pulled Jackie and I aside. She wanted to give us a gift for all our hard work. This lady whose home was in tatters and spread half way up the hill behind her lot wanted to give us gifts.
She lifted the tissue ever so carefully to reveal three pieces of beautiful handmade jewelry. This was where I was sure that I had made a mistake. Oh, right........ it was to SHOW us what she had found not a present. Whew! at least I hadn't said anything. "Here you are" she said in perfect English. The first English I had heard her say all day. Pardon? I reconfirmed in Japanese.Yes, she wanted us to chose one each.
She had found them in the debris behind her house. She had made them by hand. That afternoon when we were pulling cables from the debris she had found her bedroom contents strewn between the bamboo trees behind her home. She had carefully spent the afternoon rinsing the mud off from between the beads, stones, wires and clasps of her creations.She had painstakingly cleaned every last trace of mud from them and presented them to us as a gift of gratitude.
We had been in this position before, all attempts at refusal are brushed off. You can try as we did to gently say no, but it is futile. You'll leave with what you are being proffered.TIme and time again I heard, "this is the Japanese way" as a guest in anybody's home I have never left empty handed, whether it be with left overs or fruit from the garden, if you have brought a gift with you, you can expect to leave with something too.
So today Sanno san was very strongly with me in spirit in the Peppercannister church in Dublin, Ireland. As I, with some of my family and some of her country's people here, remembered the departed and wished those left behind some ease in their pain.