Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day & Week. Thank you especially for attending our second service for November 2012. I hope you are all in good health & excellent spirits.
As you all know, I visited Japan from the 8th to the 20th of Oct. to attend the KC of Airaku's 45th Anniversary Celebration.
Besides that great event, anther epoch-making incident happened during my stay in Japan. I saw Rev. Tetsunori Iwabe for the first time in 30 years.
On Oct. 10th, the morning after I arrived at KC Airaku, I took the bullet train to our Headquarters in Konko Town, Okayama Prefecture & joined the 1:30 pm Ikigami Konko Daijin Grand Ceremony. Strangely enough I saw many ministers I had hoped to see on this trip in the ceremonial hall. And, although there were many worshipers attending this beautiful ceremony, I even saw my friend Ms. Vivian Spies & her mother from San Diego, CA. They were quite surprised to see me too. After the ceremony I took the local train to visit Rev. Tetsunori Iwabe and his family. This is the event I call as 'epoch-making' a few minutes ago.
Rev. Iwabe was a classmate of mine at Konko Seminary School. I had taken some tapes along with me to seminary that were recorded speeches of Rev. Soichiro Otsubo. Every night for almost a year I listened to each one of them at the Konko Seminary School after regular day's duties were over & a number of the students had joined me. Iwabe-sensei was one of them. Soon after graduating from the seminary he decided to become a trainee under the guidance of Rev. Otsubo, even though his parents were earnest believers of another church. He did his best to learn the essence of the Konko faith from Rev. Otsubo for 6 years & then left KC Airaku.
Since then I've had no clue how to contact him. I have always been anxious what became of him. I've often wondered what he's been doing for the past 30 years. Then last March I learned that his son, Hiroomi Iwabe, had come to Toronto to study English for a year. Hiroomi & I finally met at the Tenchi Kane No Kami Grand Ceremony of KC Toronto that was held April 22nd. And during his summer vacation he visited Chicago for 5 days & stayed at our church.
His family lives in Fukuyama city, Hiroshima Prefecture. That, of course, is the infamous site where the atomic bomb killed thousands of people Aug. 6, 1945. Thousands of students visit the Hiroshima Memorial each year on school field-trips. And many students in Hiroshima gather together at their respective school on that day, even though it was during the summer vacation, to pay their respect to those bomb victims & pray for world peace.
Hiroomi-kun; of course, was very conscious about all of this. Co-incidentally, during his visit with us we visited the statue of 'Nuclear Energy' by Henry Moore on that very same day. It felt profoundly strange, because this statue was built to commemorate the first successful nuclear fission at the University of Chicago on Dec. 2nd, 1942. We prayed in front of that statue for quite a while. It was this visit in Chicago that made it possible for me to visit Rev. Tetsunori Iwabe & his family during my stay in Japan.
Iwabe-sensei overcame many difficulties & became a president of the subcontract company. He built a Kami-centered house about 20 years ago. The main room was just for Kami. I was asked to lead a prayer there. During the prayer I realized Kami was very pleased with the deepening faith of his family.
We talked with each other without end. We had a great deal to catch up on. He told me that he could go through many ordeals because of Rev. Otsubo & his teachings. If he had't studied under the guidance of Rev. Otsubo, he told me that he was sure he could not have had the great success that he has now.
Iwabe-sensei & his wife drove me to Konko Headquarters around midnight for me to be able to welcome our Principal Mediator processing toward our worship hall early the next morning. Each time I visit Konko Headquarters I like to pray at the gravesides of Konko Daijin & his successors until the Principal Mediator arrives. This time, however, it started raining & soon poured down for quite a while. I thought to myself, "Kami's teaching me that blessings always pour down on each one of us like this heavy rain, but we ourselves leak them."
When I called Iwabe-sensei later to say "Thank you" for his kind hospitality, he told me, "Our family tried to clean up the altar & Kami's room when we knew you could visit us. Then strange things began to happen.
"First, the light bulbs in the Kami's altar went off. Soon the light bulb in the Kami's room also went out. Then the light bulb for the rest room went off too.
"I didn't think them ominous though. I though, 'Maybe you're bringing us a new light.
"My father told me he'd had the same feeling at the next morning's prayer service after you visited us. On top of that he told me that our family would become one rank up because of your visit.'"
I was very happy to hear that. At that same time I was experiencing it as a great honor that I did not deserve right now. To tell the truth, I would like to become a person who could influence as many people as Rev. Soichiro Otsubo had had with the dignity, peace & joy in his heart. Wherever my parent minister was, peace & joy welled up in his heart with an attraction that drew many, many people around him.
I do come away from this trip with a heart filled with gratitude to overflowing & from now on, I promise to do my best to direct my heart toward Kami, deepening the peace & joy in my heart each & every moment with this poetic pledge:
- "To polish the heart
- a grindstone is not needed.
- Grind the anguish from
- within one's heart."
- And then I would like to become such a light as:
- "By polishing, it sparkles
- with precious brilliance.
- The surrounding darkness
- is illuminated."
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