Hello, everyone! Happy New Day! I hope you are all enjoying good health and excellent spirits. Thank you very much for attending today's service. This is the second monthly service in February 2011.
According to the local news, the third biggest snow in Chicago's history hit the area on Tuesday, Feb. 1st & Wednesday, 2nd. It dumped more than a foot & a half of snow on us in just less than 48 hours. Because this is "the windy city," the snow which was driven by gale-force winds, covered the steps of our church entrance with much more snow than usual. It looked like a regular hill!
Luckily though, those same strong winds blew the snow away from the front and back doors. We were blessed and were able to open both doors easily although, when I'd first see the volume of snow that had fallen, I was sure I wouldn't do so.
The roads & sidewalks, you'll remember, disappeared. And it was very difficult to get anywhere on anything other than the most frequently traveled streets & highways. Thanks to Kami, our church is also blessed with very kind, next-door neighbors. Mr. Alen Babayan, the son of the family, very generously cleared snow away from the front and back of our house with his snow blower. And older son Mitsunori helped me to clear away the rest of it by shovel, as always.
Then I thought, "I should drive our younger son Daichi to school tomorrow. So I'd better clear the snow away from around my car."
It took more than two hours to dig our car out! All that time there were a very few cars that drove down our snow covered road to get to the main thoroughfare. But several of those who tried it got stuck. I gladly helped push them to get keep going. But I was more than glad to do it because of the help we'd received from Alen.
The transmission oil was leaking from one of the cars. It left a gooey, black trail in the lovely whiteness. Never the less, he was determined to reach the main road. He finally made it … with the help of three of us pushing his car. So, thanks to the kindness of neighbor cooperation, we survived the third biggest snowfall in Chicago, with a minimum of difficulty.
Of course we all come across many difficulties such as bad, or worse than dangerous weather during our lifetime. We hear about people facing life threatening illness, economic problems etc. on an all too regular basis.
However, when we deal with these adversities in faith, we can navigate our lives without any worries even in these difficult situations. We can have Kami's remarkable arrangement to support us at any time.
For example, our new granddaughter Katelyn Yui Chon, was born with kidney problems & needed to have a series of tests at Children's Memorial Hospital on Friday, Feb. 4, just two days after the big storm. Our daughter had asked me to drive them to the appointment. Hiroko offered to drive her van to our house on and I would drive them in the van to the hospital. But the road in front of our church was covered with heavy, heavy snowdrifts. Then, much to my surprise on Feb. 3, the day before we had to journey, that road was cleared by a city snowplow. I'd been told that the city was not planning to clear our street until Friday! How wonderful Kami's arrangement was! Now, Hiroko could easily drive her van to our church on Friday.
Over my lifetime I've discovered again & again that in order to receive Kami's blessings we need to practice faith with a heart that reflects the Divine Heart of universe and be similar to the "heavenly, earthly and orderly nature of the universe." Our founder, Konko Daijin taught us, "It is essential to have a heart like that of the universe."
As we've learned so far in this New Year, the heavenly nature of the universe is characterized by inexhaustible generosity. It is a natural way of limitless giving. It is the heart that can not help but pray silently for even those who hate you or speak against you. Through faith which broadens the world of praying together, helping each other and leading each other, there is no time to hear or speak ill of others. To those who blame you or complain of you, don't listen with your ears. Listen with your heart like that of Kami. And then you can't help but pray for them. That is the way to practice the heavenly nature of the universe.
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.
It is the heart to feel Kami's look behind through anyone who even disturb you. It is the way to respect every happening as Kami's doing to deepen peace and joy in your heart, by believing that Kami let you hear or see such even unacceptable matters.
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. Like all of you those who willingly come to the church to join us regularly, for example, in this kind of monthly service are practicing this orderly nature of the universe.
And this wonderful blessing of Heaven & Earth can work for anyone. You remember Alen, whom I told you about in my introduction. Well, I met him in the evening of Wed., Feb. 2, near their garage with his snow blower in his hands. He told me he was very happy because he had been helping people all over the neighborhood the whole day. His face was filled radiant joy. Part of it may have been from spending that day in the cold, brisk air. But I believe that most of it was because he'd helped his neighbors very unselfishly with his snow blower all day. To me, that's a wonderful example of the heavenly nature of the universe. Alen reflected the Divine Heart of the Universe in practice on this earth and the happiness in his face reflected Kami's glory. One of the neighbors told his father, Josvb that his son was an angel. I, too, thought he was.
When we do our best to have our hearts be like that of the universe, even though we sometimes succeed only a little, Kami's wonderful arrangement amplifies our efforts beyond all measure.
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