tonight japan

Last night, for the first time, I saw news coverage of the tragedies in Japan, though I’ve been following stories on the radio. It’s been impossible to envision the scourge from an earthquake of such unprecedented magnitude, an obliterating tsunami or a nuclear meltdown, much less all of these tragedies in tandem, knotted up like a colossal ball of molten steel, stinging salt, twisted iron, earth and steam. It’s nearly incomprehensible to imagine being struck by homelessness in an instant—in freezing weather—losing every worldly belonging, or perhaps even an entire extended family, in one crumbling jolt or one mighty crash of a merciless wave. Most difficult of all—and impossible for me to conceive—are the fears and ills of an insidious radioactive mist.

A longtime friend I met while backpacking in Europe when I was twenty-three lives in Yokohama with her husband and two children. She told me she has to cue up for provisions and that electricity is limited. She asked me to pray for her family’s safety.

Another dear Japanese friend lives here in the States but her parents, brother and pregnant sister-in-law live in Japan. I worry about them, too. She tells me they are okay but has expressed her deep sorrow at what is happening in her country.

Again, I meditate on how fortunate we are to be safe and warm and cozy in our ample homes, enjoying short lines at the grocer, able to purchase—at the tips of our fingers— any food we can imagine, then jump in our cars and motor on home to unload our spoils. We will not freeze tonight. We will not go to bed hungry. We are privileged beyond any reasoning. Am I so deserving?

Tonight, like last night, as I shut my eyes I will allow my day's stress and frustration and worry and fatigue to drain out of me, like the sea receding from a rocky shore, and I will focus instead on others, and tonight, Japan.

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