Enduring Love

Good morning all,

I hope you’re all coping with the continued conditions. We’ve had a long week’s worth of lockdown and are hoping to see the light soon. My sister’s son and family have Covid, so that’s been keeping our prayer life alive. The latest word is that perhaps they’re on the mend.

Today lets talk today about the Japanese.  As most of you know, they’re a very sensitive and spiritual people.  When I say ‘spiritual’ I don’t mean Christian, but they are deep thinking and artistic.  They especially like poetry and have several styles from Haiku (short) to longer Tanka.  I’m going to tell you about someone who wrote a lot of Tanka, but first I must share a Haiku that my son wrote in the third grade.  He was in Japanese school and I feel that he gave it his best shot, clearly showing the sensitivity and sophistication of the mind of an 8 yr old.  Here it is:

I like the smell

Of the big orange pumpkin


And so on that note, I’d like to say that because of lockdown, I have been able to read quite a few books, one of which I read many years ago, written by Japan’s foremost Christian author, Ayako Miura.
It’s called “The Wind Is Howling” (“Michi Ariki” ????), and it’s basically her biography. It’s a beautifully written story of how she went from a very disillusioned nihilistic atheist to become the amazing woman she was till she died in the late 90’s.  It’s a love story and I loved reading it. If you get interested in this true “Hero of the Faith”, it’s for sale on Amazon but I must warn you, it’s quite expensive.

So, Ayako was a young impressionable 17-yr-old teacher during WWII. She loved her students and felt that she was making a difference in their.  But when Japan was defeated, so many things were different.  One of the most alarming, at least to her, what the fact that the American Occupation forces required the Japanese state authorized textbooks to be corrected in order to convey more of the truth about Japan and where it stood in the world. (The Emperor was not God, for example)  These corrections were to be conducted in the classrooms, supervised by the teacher.

Defeated by the Allies, told to change textbooks from what she believed to be the truth only because she was Japanese, hurled her, first to contemplate suicide, but then into what was to become a huge journey, searching for the Real Truth and with it hopefully a reason for living.

She resigned her teaching post and almost immediately came down with the postwar malady, Tuberculosis.  She would be bedridden, in and out of hospitals, facing archaic surgeries and treatments and occasionally near death for almost 13 years, 7 of those in a full body cast, which rendered her completely helpless.

During that time, the real “hero of the faith” appeared.  He was a childhood friend, Tadashi Maekawa.  They had been neighbors and friends as children but his family had moved away and they lost track of each other.  Then she was appointed secretary for the TB association in the hospital where he also was a patient so the acquaintance was happily rekindled.

A friendship grew, and she discovered he was a Christian. It wasn’t so much what he said, but his gentle nature and what he did that got her attention. Although he was sick himself, he would go out of his way to bring her a sweet, or a flower, or such.  In fact, he often brought the same for her ward mates, which in post war Japan was very rare. They began talking for hours about life in general, the death of his younger sister to TB and how she and her Christian family faced it, etc.

Years passed and he continually cared for her, showing her love and respect.  He always had an intriguing answer for all her criticism of Christianity (that of it being a ‘Western religion’, a common belief at the time although it had been in Japan for centuries)   He showed her scriptures from all parts of the Bible and even saved up and gave her a Bible so she could read it for herself.

Ayako was a deep thinker, and along with many other patients, including Tadashi, a writer of poetry, especially the longer Tanka version.  To our Western minds, her path to Christianity was not the one we would have taken, but Japanese tend to be very ethereal, introspective and non-logical.  Ironically, at least to our thinking, reading the poetry of Ecclesiastes was the most influential in converting her. She was amazed to read that Solomon, so wise and powerful, had the same questions that she did, only they were thousands of years earlier. That and because of Tadashi’s faithful and gentle, but unwavering, friendship finally, after years, she gave her life and all to the Lord.

Friendship grew into love.  She speaks of it in the book as a chaste Japanese would, the heart stopping rush of feelings of a brushed kiss on a cheek, or a hand touched in the dark…… There was talk of marriage, when they both got well. They faced the future with new found joy and commitment.

But then Tadashi, having some experimental and dangerous surgery necessary for him to get well, died. Ayako wrote this Tanka the day after he died:

You replace the quilt which is slipping

Off my bed, and go home

It is the last time

But that’s not the rest of the story.  As she grieved his loss (she was by now in a full body cast, in another hospital), Ayako felt comforted by her faith and strong enough to go on alone.  Then, by chance, she met someone else, and again, because of his gentle spirit and high intellect drew her (over many years again) together with him into an even more deep and abiding love for God.

They finally married, she got well and they lived a long and happy life.

That’s it?  NO.  Ayako Miura went on to become a hugely successful writer.  She published over 80 books, countless poems and other writings, along with her husband Mitsuyo Miura.  Because of her talent for telling a story, she was widely sought after. Japanese who’ve never heard of Christ or seen a Christian or a Church, know of her and have been touched by her life, and what she has to say. Her books are in demand even today.

Tadashi died without knowing her as a wife (as they’d planned).  He did not have any way of knowing how his influence on her would change a nation.  What an amazing contribution to Christ’s work there in the hearts of a broken hearted post war Japan, all because he let the Lord make him gentle and faithful….and never give up on her.

I just love Love Stories, don’t you?

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