Good Morning Everyone! Thank you very much for attending today's monthly service for July 2019. I hope you are all in good health & excellent spirits.
Today is July 7th, a special day all over Japan where they celebrate Tanabata, the Star Festival. Tanabata commemorates the romantic story of two lovers, represented by the stars, Vega and Altair, which are only allowed to meet once a year. They are visible as long as the skies are clear. It is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month. Some places in Japan celebrate Tanabata on August 7th.
On Tanabata, people write wishes on small pieces of colored paper called tanzaku and hang them on bamboo trees. These become beautiful Tanabata Trees. The Japanese place each of them in or outside their house or on the streets.
Tanabata came to Japan from China in the 8th century. It is the story of two lovers. Princess Orihime, a seamstress, wove beautiful clothes by the heavenly river, the Milky Way. Since Orihime worked so hard at her weaving, she became sad and wondered if she'd ever find love. Her father, God of the heavens, loved her dearly and arranged for her to meet, the cattle herder, Hikoboshi, who lived on the other side of the Milky Way. The two fell in love and married. Their love & devotion to each other prevented them from doing their jobs. The weaving stopped and Hikoboshi's cattle began wandering throughout the heavens.
Orihime's father became angry and forbade them from being together. However, Orihime pleaded with her father to allow them to see each other. He so loved his daughter, he decreed that the two star-struck lovers would be able to meet once a year--on the 7th day of the 7th month if Orihime continued her weaving. The first time they were to re-unite, they found the river, which was the Milky Way, to be impossible to cross. Orihime became so sad that a flock of magpies made a bridge for her. It has been said that if it rains on Tanabata, the magpies could not come, and the two lovers would have to wait another year for their meeting. So people have always wished for good weather for the Tanabata Festival. I, myself, hope there are clear skies tonight, so these two lovers can meet.
Similar to their dreams coming true, recently one of my own dreams has partially come true. I was able to drive the famous ROUTE 66 for 50 minutes on June 6th. I have had a long cherished desire to drive, even once, the whole distance of ROUTE 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. It was a memorable day for me. Through Divine Arrangement I was driving on ROUTE 66.
Let me explain: A visitor from Japan requested me to drive down the historic ROUTE 66 to Pontiac city to visit the Pontiac Auto Museum & the ROUTE 66 Museum on the 6th of June. I willingly accepted the offer thinking Kami was helping me to realize my dream, even though I would only be on ROUTE 66 for a short time. My wife came along with us. And such a wonderful & memorable day it was! On June 6th on ROUTE 66!
When I was 13, the show ROUTE 66 was broadcasted on TV in Japan for the first time. It was 1961. There were two bright young Americans who drove off at a smart pace on ROUTE 66 in an open car. They would solve problems they came across in a unique way. I loved to watch it. It made me somehow long for America. But I had not yet begun to dream of driving on it myself.
It was when our second child was one month away from my wife Kanako delivering him. He would become our first son, Mitsunori. At that time Kanako was bleeding and was about to give birth prematurely. Her mother, Mrs. Kimie Furuya, came to KC Airaku on August 1, 1984 to offer prayers. On her donation envelope, she had written 'safe delivery.' That day I was the one sitting at the Mediation place almost all day long. I was recording the names of KC Airaku's worshipers who offered envelopes with donations.
As I wrote the name of Furuya Kimie & 'Kanako's safe delivery,' suddenly, to my surprise, I received the voice of Kami say, 'ROUTE 66,' in my spiritual ears. Immediately I felt Kami had great expectations for this child to be of service and help North America embrace this faith. At that time I believed ROUTE 66 was the main road running west to east across the United States.
Actually, ROUTE 66 used to be the main road between Chicago & Los Angeles. Since then, one of my dreams has been to drive the historic ROUTE 66 all the way from Chicago to Los Angeles.
Through Kami's arrangement, in 1990 to 1991, I studied English for half a year at Los Angeles State University. And then, through Kami's wishes I have been allowed to establish KC Chicago in 2009. Now I serve Kami & people as a Mediator here in Chicago.
I drove the historic ROUTE 66 for about 50 minutes. It was a straight two-lane road, which includes both directions. Even so, I could not contain myself. I was just so grateful to be driving on ROUTE 66, which had been a long-cherished dream of mine. Even though it was the same as the ordinary roads I usually drive on, I was overwhelmed with joy being on the historic ROUTE 66.
Our daily lives are quite common and ordinary. However, when we can see that our lives are led by Kami, and realize that we are walking the very path Kami wishes for us, that is when we are able to live our lives and fill our hearts with more and more gratitude.
Afterwards I came to know Ichie Sensei's husband, Mr. Michael Knuppel, had had the same dream as mine. He had yearned for a drive on the historic ROUTE 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles, and along the way to also visit the Grand Canyon. Mike-san & I now have a plan to make our dreams come true this coming September.
I believe all of you have your own long-cherished dreams. Tenchi Kane No Kami is our Divine Parent. Kami knows us all more than anyone else. So let us keep those dreams in mind. Through Kami's miraculous arrangement each dream of ours will surely come true someday. Once it comes true, our joy is beyond measure.
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