Hello, Everyone! Happy New Day! I hope you are all enjoying first-rate health and good spirits, thank you very much for attending today's service. We kicked off the brand new year of 2011 with our New Year's Day Ceremony here at KC-CHI before the old year ended with the busiest time ever.
For our family personally, the great activity began on Thursday, on Dec. 23. Our daughter, Hiroko gave birth to our third grandchild, a beautiful new baby girl. Her name is Katelyn Yui Chon.
During the 4:00 am morning prayers that Thursday, I received a revelation from Kami about her middle name. It was the Chinese character 'Yui (結),' part of the Japanese word for 'wedding' and means 'connection.' Katelyn's first name means 'pure.'
We babysat Hiroko's two older grandchildren from Dec. 26 to 28. We also needed to prepare for our New Year's Day Ceremony. So you can imagine how busy we were. BUT, as you've heard me say many times, "nothing is impossible for Kami." The more I relaxed and concentrated on filling my heart with gratitude, the more peaceful I felt as the end of the year approached.
On Dec. 29th we'd been invited to give a purification ceremony at the Kanaflex Corporation manufacturing facilities, Vernon Hill. And we held our Year's End service on the last day of the year; Dec. 31, 2010, in conjunction with a memorial service honoring the life Kevo, whom I've told you about in recent sermons. Four of Kevo's young friends came all the way from St. Louise and New York especially to pay their respect to Kevo.
I usually write three words of appreciation in the Prayer Book of KC Chicago each evening after the regular evening prayer service. They express appreciation to Kami from my family, KC Chicago and all the people in the world to close the day.
When I came to write those words of appreciation for that day at around 11:00 pm on New Year's Eve our Prayer Book had only one space left on the line. So I wanted to write a single word, which could describe the whole year of 2010. No matter how intensely and deeply I thought about it, the word "Hurrah" (or "Banzai") welled up in my mind.
And it began to dawn on me. Even though I felt I had often failed to deepen my peaceful and joyful heart in the previous twelve months, Kami's workings had been tremendous; more than I had expected or could have hoped to receive. And I realized, that's why, I believe the joyous words for "Hurrah" burst in upon me in both languages.
Our founder Konko Daijin taught us, "It is essential to have a heart like that of the universe and try to be similar to the heavenly, earthly and orderly nature of the universe."
The heavenly nature of the universe is characterized by inexhaustible generosity. It is a natural way of limitless giving.
The earthly nature of the universe is to be calmly accepting of everything that happens to us. It is to remain silent & peaceful like the earth itself. No matter how filthy we may comprehend something to be, the earth doesn't say, "I hate foul smelling things like this' or "these kinds of foul, dirty things are out," no matter how repugnant. Moreover, the earth is not just passively silent. It receives these things & absorbs them into itself as nourishment.
In the orderly nature of the universe - there is nothing more faithful and perfect. We'd be in trouble for example if the sun were to say, "I'm a little bit tired today, so I'll take a break?" The sun works without rest a minute, a second or even a mille-second. This, I believe, shows the vital importance of practicing faith in this same dedicated, constant way.
For me, this is my correct Way of Faith. This seems the best way for ordinary human beings to live ordinary lives while reflecting Kami's Divine Heart of the universe. As we do this better and better, Kami's glory transforms our lives, and we insignificant human creatures in the scheme of things, can prosper within Heaven and Earth from generation to generation like the universe, which itself is constantly evolving.
To be in eternal harmony with Heaven and Earth we can soon learn to say with great faith, that we practice faith to reflect the nature of the universe in order to live each day with sincerity, in giving & accepting silence. This year 2011 I will continue to focus on perfecting a heart like that of the universe in order to deepen peace and joy in my heart toward becoming unbreakable. Then I hope to shout another even GREATER "Hurrah" at the end of this year too.
In that spirit, I would like to share again my New Year's poem for 2011 with you:
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