Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day & Week! Thank you very much for attending today's service. This is the second monthly service for July, 2011. I hope you are all enjoying good health and excellent spirits.
Due to the cerebral hemorrhage my mother in Japan went to the emergency on June 21. When I received the call from Noriko-san, my brother's wife, my 1st question was of course, "How is she doing?"
Noriko-san said her condition was not good & she wondered if my mother could recover. I really wanted to go back to Japan to say "Thank you!" to my mother from the bottom of my heart as soon as possible. But we had scheduled to have the most important 50th Day Unification Service for the late Mrs. Masae Ogawa on Sunday, July 17.
At first I planned to go back to Japan after this service & began preparing for that service as much as possible. But then I found I could do almost everything I needed to for it by July 3rd quicker than I'd expected. Thinking of Masae-san's Unification service, I decided to go back to Japan on July 6th, my mother's 89th birthday, so I could see her one last time if Kami was really calling her into the next world.
On the way to visit my mother, I really wanted to stop at our International Headquarters to seek Mediation about my mother's condition from our Principal Mediator. In order to do that I needed to arrive in the Konko town before 3:30 am on July 8. But my flight was delayed more than an hour behind schedule & I arrived at the Narita airport at 4:30 pm on July 7th. I decided to take trains to reach to the place as closer as possible to our Headquarters anyway. I could just barely make it if I could catch the Narita Express to the Tokyo station within 5 minutes. I succeeded & boarded the bullet train to Okayama station in 10 minutes. From there the last local train to the Konko Town got me there at 12:04 am on July 8.
Thank goodness the central worship hall is open in order for anyone to be able to pray there around the clock since the Founder received Kami's revelation in 1863 to always keep the sliding shutters at the worship hall's entrance open. I was able to pray there for my mother and Masae-san until the regular Morning Prayers at 3:45 am, which marks our Principal Mediator's coming to the central worship hall everyday.
Before Morning Prayers I prayed at the gravesites located outside, of our founder and his successors also. At that time of day the mosquitoes are usually very troublesome at this time of year. But thanks to brief rain showers just before I arrived, it was cool and there were few mosquitoes in spite of the summer season.
After the Morning Prayer service I sought Mediation with our Principal Mediator about my mother. Also I wanted to extend my appreciation of the late Mrs. Masae Ogawa's long life and my prayers of her spiritual peace and happiness through our Principal Mediator & then it was on to Kyushu.
I visited my mother in the hospital to see on July 9th. She was surprised and very pleased to see me, in fact, she was moved to tears. She had been getting steadily better and her condition seemed to improve even more after she saw me. I extended my filial appreciation to her from the bottom of my heart & stayed with her as much as possible.
I massaged her shoulder and legs & we talked joyfully about our shared memories & sang songs together. To my surprise she remembered the whole passage of one famous old song called, "The Desert Under the Moon."
My nephew, Mr. Munenori Takeuchi came to Japan after graduating from the university in China at just the right time. Together we went to hospital to see my mother. We asked her how she said "Arigatou" in English & she answered, "Thank you!" Then we asked her again what was the English "Douitashimasite." She answered, "Not at all," instead of "You are welcome." My nephew was very surprised by her answer & said that even he had not known the literal words of "Not at all" in Japanese, meant "You are welcome," in English.
July 11th was the last day when I could see her this time. When I told her that I would go back to Chicago on that day, she begged her grandchildren to just stop me. I told her that I would go back to Chicago to be of service to Kami and people in Chicago. Then she told me to do my best with tears overflowing.
I never forget my mother's figure of severe training and her gentle smile. Her gentle smile touched my heart deeply. To me it was the true appearance of her genuine peaceful and joyful heart. Kami received my filial piety on this occasion even though it was small & returned it with a great gift to my faith.
Do you know 24 stories of filial duty? One story goes as follows: "There was a dutiful son. His father was afflicted with serious illness. He wanted to eat a bamboo shoot. It was winter. There were no bamboo shoots in winter. However a dutiful son went to a bamboo grove to find one because of his father's desire to eat it. He did his best to look for it in the deep snow. No matter how intensely he tried, he could not find any, but instead he found the sword he had searching for a long time. It was his treasure. A very similar kind of divine blessing happened to me at my home church on my way back to Chicago.
I had the opportunity to meet with Rev. Katsuhiko Otsubo, head-minister of the Airaku Church & join one of the daily faith meetings with my brother-in-law Rev. Mitusaki Otsubo. I learned a lot from them through their wonderful insights of faith. I learned especially how to apply mutual reliance between Kami and people in daily life from Rev. Katsuhiko & about the importance of prayer through Rev. Mitsuaki. Their wisdom will build the foundation of my faith training from now on to become a living example of the Konko faith in Chicago.
I will do my best to emulate the nature of the universe by burning my mother's living example of training in my consciousness as taught to me by two of my dearest mentors at the Airaku Church.
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