Sunday, August 9, 2009

Last Day in Nagasaki

Yesterday, some members of the group went to a liturgy (more on that later) while others who were "Catholic-ed out" attended other events. Kristi, Steve, JoAn, Debi & I (Sarah) went to the peace convention that started in Hiroshima and concluded on Nagasaki Day. Attending the convention these past three days, we've been pretty inspired by the powerful anti-nuclear movement here. The youth are amazing and very enthusiastic with their vision and perseverance to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. It's been interesting to talk with delegates from other countries, both young and old, about the anti-nuke circumstances in various parts of the world. We are all dedicated to this cause. To join together with others, to have some rallying time without the apprehension that is more abundant back in the states, is very motivational. As almost every speech-maker of every nationality mentioned over the course of the convention, "yes we can."

Many group members had a chance to visit the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum yesterday. This was quite an impacting experience. The first room of the museum is a model of the rubble left after the bomb exploded and includes a model of one side of the very church that many members would visit - it has since been remodeled. Urakami Cathedral was a majestic building that, like the area around it, was completely destroyed by the H-bomb dropped on August 9th, 1945. Although it was smaller than the Hiroshima museum, this one was just as effective. It displayed many artifacts from the aftermath of the bombing. Item after item - and they were simlar things, like clothing, roof tiles, etc. Seeing these things and their accompanying stories over and over really pounded it into my brain. We, as humans, must not do this again. Not to anybody. It's not a matter of nationality, politics, religion, or power.

Last night at 6:30, Bix, Louie, Teresa, Leslie, Denny and Tom attended a Catholic liturgy at the Peace Park here in Nagasaki. Severral thousand people marched from the park following the liturgy - each received a bamboo torch. The lighted torches were carried in procession to the Urakami Cathedral several miles away in the dark for the mass at 8:00. The quiet procession was a spectacular sight. The commemorations moving - a small sense of solidarity with the people of Japan who have suffered so much - also a sense of great hope to work to never let this tragedy occur again.

We leave in one day to return to the United States. Our journey here has been more than we could have ever imagined. The hospitality, gentleness, and respectfulness of the Japanese people - hibakusha (bomb-affected people), inspirational youth, many people who have generously provided shelter during our stay, taxi drivers, strangers on the streetcars- is beautiful and a powerful sign of non-violence in a world where reactionary sentiment sometimes seems hopelessly common. We are eager to come home and express our gratitude to all who made our journey possible and to share what we've seen and heard.

-Tom & Sarah

1 comment:

  1. Lydia Wittman GrebeAugust 9, 2009 at 10:27 PM

    A prayer for "journey of repentance" interfaith group during our worship service on Sun., Aug. 9 (at zion lutheran in ferndale, wa):

    We pray for the whole human community throughout the world: for those who teach, grow, heal, and feed; those who clean, fix, build and rebuild; those who beautify, listen, speak truth and make peace. We pray for Debi, Sarah, and the participants in the Journey of Repentance in their last days in Japan. Bless them in their sojourn and open their eyes to see your presence in all peoples and places. We pray for your healing hands to touch those who bear the scars of nuclear warfare in their bodies and spirits. Teach us your way of peace. God of mercy, hear our prayer.

    traveling mercies to you all! God bless.