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stunned by tsunami

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I was a day late in hearing about the disaster in Japan; that’s what you get for shunning TV and newspaper headlines. Now I’m in shock. What do you say or do in the face of such a catastrophy? Nothing, really — but turn inward, be silent, feel helpless … and notice your compassionate heart open towards far-way strangers. 

Looking out the window I imagine, for a quick moment, what it might be like if mud were to fill our little street, cars fly through the air, the house tip sideways and crack open, precious stuff disappear, and connections be disrupted to friends and neighbours. What would be left? What is there for you and me, when everything’s stripped away, when uncertainty descends, when our awareness is propelled towards the brink of unknowing?

It is indeed like that–
and I have never noticed
dew on grass.

image: REUTERS. Smoke rises in the distance behind destroyed houses in Kesennuma City in Miyagi Prefecture in northeastern Japan. text: poem by Kangyo in: Hoffmann, Y. (1998). (ed). Japanese death poems written by Zen monks and haiku poets on the verge of death. Tokyo/Vermont: Tuttle, p. 213.


5 responses »

  1. And I got an e-mail last Tuesday telling me that a much loved friend of more than ten years had just committed suicide in Olympia because she could no longer handle her health issues. And just three days earlier we had talked on the phone and shared much love and laughter.

    So these events are the sad side of life and have been present since the beginning of what we call time.

    • dear bill, i think of you as you morn the abrupt ending of your friend’s life. May her soul be in peace and may your memory of her be sweet. peter

  2. PS What is left for us ~ assuming that we are still alive ~ is the life force that lives so strongly in us. Our beingness and an acceptance of what is. Remember Pompeii? The dinosaurs? Some things never change.

  3. Peter, being on twitter, I was on the opposite end of knowing within the hour and watched live streaming coverage until midnight to see if we would need to be prepared for a Tsunami on our coast. From what you are saying and my experience, whether immediate or after the fact, the emotional impact seems to be the same – quickly forced facing our own mortality which is with us always.

    Living where we do, your musings are entirely plausible. But I think it is the more general facing of losing and leaving everything someday that continues to challenge me – to acknowledge, to be present, to live my truth as I know it today… even if that is to be miserable or uncertain, I want to experience whatever it is as fully as I am able.

    • Terrill, it had occured to me how close we are, geographically, to forces beyond any control. It scares me deep inside, where the little self clings to what it thinks is “for sure.” Once more we’re called to step out of the hiding place and face that which is — however uncertain and incomprehensible that is.


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