Hello, everyone! Thank you very much for attending today's one year Memorial Service; for the late Mrs. Haruko Nakaoka. I know Haruko-san's Mitama spirit will be pleased to see all of you here today at KC Chicago from the next world. In preparing today's 1st Annual Memorial I have I realized yet again how much Haruko-san has been a lady of perseverance throughout her life on this world & is now; in the next. Throughout her life she endured everything with calmness like her name; 'Haruko', which means "a person who settles everything calmly, without saying anything. She accumulated divine virtue through this endurance.
Usually we have a memorial service honoring a Mitama spirit before; or on the day when that Mitama entered the next world. The reason we do this is that we believe the Mitama spirit is eagerly looking forward to seeing a gathering of all their family & friends from the next world. Unfortunately, this time we could not help but postpone the date of the service due to an unusually heavy snowfall. Haruko-san has had to wait an additional six days to see all of you at the service for her today. She could wait with gratitude because as I said, she is a lady of perseverance, in which I really realize again. The common saying in both Japanese & English tells us, "Time flies so quickly."
But it seems impossible that a whole year has passed since Haruko-san died that long ago on February 1, 2014. Every morning & evening at KC Chicago we keep Haruko-san's memory alive through our prayers we offer for her; along with all the Mitama spirits to whom we are especially connected in this church. I believe they are deepening their peaceful & joyful hearts from moment to moment in the next world under the guide of outstanding believers like our founder Ikigami Konko Daijin & my parent minister, Rev. Soichiro Otsubo. That thought constantly encourages me to develop an unbreakable peace & joy in my own heart.
From the beginning of this memorial year, I have continuously sought to understand what Haruko-san would like to tell us from the next world. A couple days ago, while I was cleaning the altar & preparing some offering displays like canned & dried goods, I believe Kami showed me Haruko-san's wishes when I put a bag of Japanese tea co-incidentally in the center of the dried items. You can see it here [POINT TO IT] it's this one.
"Ureshino Tea" in Japanese was written on the surface of this tea bag. The tea was produced in Ureshino City, one of the famous tea production areas in Japan. The Chinese character of "Ureshi" means 'Delight.' The other character "no" means 'field.' I suddenly saw it as Kami's way of showing me that Haruko-san"s Mitama spirit is doing her best to deepen her heart to become more delightful. In later years Rev. Soichiro Otsubo could not help but cry out in delight at each and every happening he encountered, what and who he saw. He called it "the world of delight.
As you heard in the Saichi prayer, Kami gave a divine name to Haruko-san's Mitama spirit which is, "Nakaoka Haruko Wagatama Ouna no Mitama no Kami." (Waga means 'peace & joy" & Tama means 'gem of one's heart.'
A peaceful & joyful heart is the essential foundation for human happiness. I believe Haruko-san sought faithfully & tried to deepen peace & joy in her heart; whatever happened in her life & no matter how difficult it might be at the time. I feel certain she has continued to do so in the next world. She was a lady of perseverance. That was why Harold-san & Haruko-san had never quarreled throughout their marriage life for 66 years. They deeply loved each other, seeking to constantly help & support each other. What amazing lives they had lived together. Their long married lives together could be described in this verse:
Praying each to the other---
Together polishing & being polished
There's nothing to compare with----
The joy of this day.
Our parent minister Rev. Soichiro Otsubo & his wife Mrs. Isoe Otsubo had lived that same quality of married life together. I adored their lives. I really would like to live such a life together with my wife Kanako.
The last words Rev. Soichiro Otsubo was heard to say on earth were, "There is no other word than peaceful & joyful heart that I left in this world. I have sought peace & joy in my heart throughout my life & right now do so at this moment. I think I continue to do so from now on & even after I enter the next world. The first is to pray for world peace."
Peace & Joy filling one's heart is the essential foundation for human happiness. In preparing this service for Haruko-san, I learned one most important thing from her, as well.
Each day in my prayer book I write each family name of the Nishimura's to pray for their health & Kami's wish to be fulfilled for them such as the Ogawa Tim family, the Woo Joe couple & so on. I have also written the Nakaoka Harold family & also appreciation of Haruko's life on the right side of it since she passed away. When the 1st year Memorial Service approached, I accidentally wrote prayer for Haruko-san's one year service on the right side of the Nakaoka Harold family instead of appreciation of Haruko's life on the thirteenth of January.
Every day is the day for Kami's wish to be fulfilled. However such superstition as thirteenth day is bad is prevailed throughout the world. So Kami wanted us under the guide of Rev. Soichiro Otsubo to treasure the thirteenth day as the day when Kami's wish will be fulfilled.
The Mitama spirit of Haruko-san realizes more perfectly the importance of living with Kami by deepening peace & joy in the next world. Through this process I have more clearly realized what we can do to best develop our individual peaceful & joyful heart. It is not just for our lives to be fulfilled; but it is also; & more importantly, for Kami's wish for the precious gift of each of our lives to be fulfilled as completely as possible. That was the wonderful lesson I learned from Haruko-san this time & continue to learn more sincerely from her Mitama spirit from now on.
Haruko-san wants us to live for the wishes Kami has for our lives - with respect for each & everything we experience here on earth, to develop our peaceful & joyful heart to perfection in eternity.
Therefore let us always keep Kami in mind & dedicate ourselves to deepening peace & joy in our hearts until they, like Haruko-san's, become the unbreakable likeness of our Divine Parent - Kami.
We pray for Haruko-san's eternal peace & happiness. May she live in the midst of Kami's presence, delighting with Konko Daijin who has always been her eternal Mediator, not only in this world but also in the next, where I truly believe she can now, fully enjoy the daily prayers you offer for her.
Konko Daijin taught us, "Immortality is important for humans. Immortality is when others keep praying for you after you die." Thank you!
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